Forza Horizon Leaders Leave Playground Games to Form New AAA Studio, Maverick Games

Image: Playground Games

The next Forza Horizon game may feel a little different than its previous installments. According to a number of reports online, key members of the open-world racing franchise’s developer, Playground Games, have left to form a new AAA studio called Maverick Games. They include Tom Butcher and Matt Craven, who previously served as the executive producer and chief technology officer for the Forza Horizon series, respectively.

Maverick Games is currently home to the following, per Forbes:

  • Mike Brown, former creative director at Playground Games
  • Executive producer Tom Butcher (producer on Forza Horizon 2-5, as well as F1 Race Stars with Codemasters);
  • Chief technology officer Matt Craven (programmer with 12 years of experience at Playground and ten years with Codemasters);
  • Content director Gareth Harwood (ten years as a technical artist with Playground, and three years with FreeStyleGames);
  • Audio director Fraser Strachan (audio designer for Forza Horizon 2-5)
  • Art director Ben Penrose (from Sharkmob London, with nine years at Playground Games).

“Our goal is for Maverick Games to be a studio people will love,” said 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 hasn’t revealed what genre its new game belongs to, but a racer would not be surprising. Playground Games released Forza Horizon 5 in November 2021, a fifth installment that took players to living deserts, lush jungles, historic cities, hidden ruins, and more in an open-world Mexico. It is available to play on Xbox, PC, and Game Pass.

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