Playground Games' co-founder Trevor Williams is set to replace Gavin Raeburn as Studio Head

Forza Horizon 5 Store Screenshot
Forza Horizon 5 Store Screenshot (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

What you need to know

  • Gavin Raeburn is a prolific game developer involved in franchises like DiRT, GRID, and Forza Horizon.
  • He co-founded Playground Games with Trevor Williams back in 2009, which Microsoft later acquired for Forza Horizon.
  • Announced today, Gavin Raeburn is leaving Playground Games, replaced by Trevor Williams as Studio Head.

Forza Horizon is one of Microsoft's most successful franchises. Even during the darkest days of the Xbox One generation, Forza Horizon stood out as a bright star defiantly launching to critical acclaim and big sales success. Now bigger than Forza Motorsport itself, Forza Horizon is one of Xbox's most cherished franchises, serving tens of millions of players across the world with its expansive take on open-world arcade-style racing. The latest entry Forza Horizon 5 takes place in Mexico, and has already raced into pole position as the franchise's most successful entry yet.

Announced today, Microsoft and Playground Games revealed Gavin Raeburn, who has served as Studio Director and co-founder for the past 12 years, is leaving the company. General Manager and partner co-founder Trevor Williams will step up as Studio Head in Raeburn's place. Microsoft's CVP of Forza and Fable, Alan Hartman, shared the below message with us.

After 12 years working on five award-winning Forza Horizon games, Gavin Raeburn is leaving Playground Games as Studio Director. A founding member of Playground Games, we thank Gav for his leadership and contributions to the Forza franchise and wish him all the best. Co-founder Trevor Williams will transition from General Manager to Studio Head effective immediately, as the Playground Games team focuses on updates to Forza Horizon 5 and the development of Fable.

Gavin Raeburn is something of an industry legend, having worked on cult classics like The Equalizer for the Commodore 64, all the way up to Codemasters' TOCA Championship, DiRT, and GRID. Raeburn left Codemasters to co-found Playground Games in 2009, and built what has since become one of Microsoft's most important studios, if not its most important studio this side of Minecraft.

Playground Games continues work on Forza Horizon 5, likely building DLC expansions as we've seen from previous entries. Playground is also working on a reboot of classic Xbox RPG franchise Fable, soaking up developer talent from the likes of Rockstar Games and CD Projekt RED to make it happen.

There's no information about where Gavin Raeburn might be headed next, but we suspect Fable won't be the last time we see the Raeburn brand grace the credits of a major game launch.

Forza Horizon 5 is available now for Xbox and PC, or as part of an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!