Forza Horizon veterans leave Playground Games to form new AAA studio

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Several Forza Horizon veteran developers have left Playground Games to form a new triple-A game studio called Maverick Games.

Forza Horizon developers form new studio Maverick Games

Based in Leamington Spa, Maverick Games was founded by former Forza Horizon 5 Creative Director Mike Brown, who serves as Creative Director and Studio Head.

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Joining Brown is COO Harinder Sangha, who was previously Co-studio Head at Sumo Digital Leamington, and executive producer Tom Butcher, a former lead producer at Playground Games who worked on Forza Horizon 2-5.

Maverick Games logo
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Other Playground Games veterans at Maverick Games include Matt Craven as Chief Technology Officer, Gareth Harwood as Content Director and Fraser Strachan as Audio Director.

Former Playground Games’ Studio Art Director Ben Penrose also joins as Art Director, while ex-EA Experience Design Director Elly Marshall will serve as UX/UI Director.

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“Our goal is for Maverick Games to be a studio people will love,” said Mike Brown.

“For players, we’re already at work on an exciting ultra-high quality title, and for developers, we’re building a home where everyone is encouraged to take risks, be curious, be creative, be innovative, be themselves, and above all – be a Maverick.”

Maverick Games working on “new premium open-world game”

Maverick has “secured significant seed funding” and is said to be actively working on a “new premium open-world game for consoles and PC.”

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Whether this will be a new open-world racing game remains to be seen. While we'd love to see the team utilise their racing game talent, Playground Games has dabbled with other genres, with a separate team working on the upcoming Fable reboot.

Forza Horizon 5 Mercedes-AMG One
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Playground Games was originally founded in 2010 by former racing game veterans from studios including Codemasters, Bizarre Creations and Criterion Games.

Although Forza Horizon 6 development has reportedly already begun, this is a big loss for Playground Games. Replacing key developers and producers won’t be easy.

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But with the Forza Horizon formula becoming stale, a new creative director could give the series the new lease of life it needs. 

Playground Games isn’t the only racing game studio facing staff losses either. Last month, several key Need for Speed Unbound developers left Criterion Games, but it’s unknown if they will form a new studio too.