Forza Horizon Devs Create Maverick Games, Set to Develop New Open-World Racing Game – Playground Games, owned by Xbox Games Studios, has lost a number of former Forza Horizon developers who have joined Maverick Games, a triple-A UK-based game production studio.
Former Forza creative director Mike Brown will continue in that role and act as the studio head for Maverick Games. The initial undertaking of the studio will be an open-world game. Given the team’s experience creating racing games, it might be a different genre, but it’s also possible that it will be another racing sim or even an arcade racing game like Horizon.
The group now includes several more well-known Playground developers. Matt Craven, who was Playground’s technical director, will serve as Maverick’s CTO. Gareth Harwood and Fraser Strachan will continue to serve as Maverick’s content director and audio director, respectively. Regarding the design and art teams, Ben Penrose, the art director for Forza, will continue in his role at this new business. Elly Marshall, a former director of experience design at Electronic Arts, is also joining the group as the new UI/UX director. Tom Butcher, lead producer of Playground, will serve as executive producer at Maverick, and Harinder Sangha, a former executive at Sumo Digital, will serve as COO.
Mike Brown already has a clear vision for the studio that he wants to create because he wants it to be one that “people will enjoy.” As for developers, he added, “We’re establishing a home where everyone is encouraged to take risks, be curious, be creative, be innovative, be themselves, and above all – be a Maverick.” He also stated that “for players, we’re currently at work on an exciting ultra-high quality title.”
The next Forza game, Forza Motorsport, as revealed last year, is in jeopardy with the departure of such high-profile employees from Playground. It’s interesting to note that Xbox is allegedly conducting a Developer Direct demonstration later this month, during which it will allegedly announce upgrades for Forza Motorsport and other games. After Brown’s departure, we don’t yet know who will be in charge of the studio. If Xbox intends to release Motorsport in the spring of 2023, a significant percentage of development must be finished; ideally, these departures won’t cause a launch delay.