Here's some big industry news for a random Tuesday morning in January! A chunk of the Playground Games team that developed Forza Horizon over the last few years have left the studio, forming a new "AAA" team called Maverick Games.
Forza Horizon 5 creative director Mike Brown is heading up the project, alongside company COO Harinder Sangha. Sangha previously helped form two other UK-based development studios - Sega Hardlight and Sumo Leamington.
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Brown detailed some of the reasons behind him leaving Playground to form a new studio:
"As much as I had an amazing journey at Playground, I was asking myself, what's next? Do I stick with this fun, good job? Or do I look for other opportunities? [...] This opportunity came up. I was asked what my vision would be for a new studio... and it was lucky I had an idea in mind."
That idea seems a rather ambitious one. While the studio is currently 10-employees strong, it intends to grow to 100+ in the near future, with the aim of creating award-winning titles.
"The team that we've got, the set-up that we've got, gives us confidence and security..."
"The game will be open world, it will be AAA, it will be premium, it will have the ambition to go on and win all the awards..."
The announcement of Maverick Games is putting a huge emphasis on the team's studio culture and its working environment. The philosophy here seems to be creativity above all else, with the studio head saying the team will "really encourage them [developers] to take creative risks".
What this all means for the future of Playground and its own projects is unclear. Of course, only a handful of developers are actually leaving the Xbox-owned studio so day-to-day development likely won't be affected too much. Still, 'Forza Horizon 6' could look different as a result of these top-level departures - Brown was the creative director on the last game after all.