What you need to know
- Several Playground Games members, including Forza Horizon 5's creative director, Mike Brown, have left the team to form their own studio.
- Maverick Games is a brand-new, UK-based, independent games studio focused on creating open-world, 'AAA' titles.
- The studio wants to empower its developers to take creative risks and be passionate about what they make.
- Few details are available on the studio's first game, but Brown hinted that it may not be a driving game.
Playground Games is often foremost in conversations discussing the most talented and valuable teams in the Xbox Game Studios family. The developer is responsible for the Forza Horizon open-world racing franchise and the upcoming Fable reboot, and now it seems that Playground Games is giving rise to a brand-new, independent studio made of its former staff.
Mike Brown, most recently known as the creative director for Forza Horizon 5, has departed Playground Games alongside several other team members to form Maverick Games, a new UK-based studio focused on creating 'AAA', open-world titles for consoles and PC. The studio, which also includes Harinder Sangha, a well-known studio leader coming from Sumo Digital, wants to shed the established rules of the industry to empower its developers to take bold, creative risks.
"It is a truism that you can be creative, or you can be cautious, but you can't be both," Brown stated while discussing Maverick Games. "You either decide to mitigate risks, which limits creativity, or you embrace risks, which releases creativity. We are going to build a team where we really encourage them to take creative risks, to try new things, and really celebrates that as part of our culture."
Maverick Games is currently comprised of only 10 developers, but the plan is to expand to as many as 140 members in the future, with Sangha, the studio's new COO, wanting diversity and collaborative creativity to be major focuses for recruitment.
The studio is based in Leamington, UK alongside many other prominent teams in the industry, will cultivate a hybrid office / remote work environment, and has reportedly secured enough funding from a London-based investor to steamroll its first major project. "The team that we've got, the set-up that we've got, gives us confidence and security," Brown told GamesIndustry.biz.
Details on Maverick Games' first project are understandably scarce, at the moment, although it's hinted that the Forza Horizon veterans may not be cooking up a competitor to the best Xbox racing games. "I'd definitely describe myself as an open world guy first, rather than a driving guy," Brown hinted.
We know the game will be aiming for premium, 'AAA' quality in an open-world setting, and will seek to cater to the way people consume media today. "...We need to build our games where we are always addressing every player, always giving them something to do, never letting them to get to that bit in a game where it's just going to repeat for 15 hours until you get to the credits," Brown explained. We also know that the game will be developed for "consoles and PC," suggesting that Maverick Games may not follow in Playground Games' footsteps as an Xbox exclusive developer.
Maverick Games is likely years away from having a project ready to show to players, but you can follow the Maverick Games Twitter or head to the Maverick Games website to keep up to date with the studios' latest news. The studio is also going on a hiring spree to get everything up and running, and flesh out its team with the talent necessary to bring Brown's vision to fruition.
Windows Central's take — A promising new studio, with exciting potential
With industry leading talent, a clear vision for work culture and creativity, and leadership that brought us one of the best Xbox games in Forza Horizon 5, Maverick Games clearly has everything it needs to succeed, even in an uncertain, tumultuous economic environment. It'll likely be a long time before we see anything concrete from the up-and-coming startup, but Maverick Games is an exciting addition to the string of new studios that have appeared in recent years.
I especially have a lot of respect for Mike Brown, who played a huge role in creating one of my favorite games of 2021, and to whom I've spoken on multiple occasions. I already can't wait to see what Maverick Games is able to accomplish, even if it means Playground Games' Forza Horizon team just lost some of its best talent. Whatever Maverick Games tackles for its first project, I just hope I can play it on my Xbox Series X.
Maverick Games is years away from releasing its first title, but Forza Horizon 5 is available right now through Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. And all of that is included in Microsoft's flagship subscription service.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.