Microsoft has acquired the UK-based developer behind the
highly-popular and critically-acclaimed Forza Horizon series, Playground
Games, as recently expected. The news was announced by Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer
after the reveal
of Forza Horizon 4 at the company’s E3 2018 Media
Briefing on Sunday, June 11th.
The studio, located in Leamington Spa, was one-of-four
acquired by Microsoft recently, with the others announced at E3 including Ninja
Theory – the team behind the story-driven and critically-acclaimed
Games – a studio behind unique single-player experiences that has
shipped Contrast and is currently working on Xbox Game Preview title We Happy
Few, and finally, Undead
Labs – a small, independent team behind the State of Decay franchise.
Microsoft also announced the formation of a brand-new studio
known as ‘The
Initiative.’ This newly-established team is being led by former Square Enix
veteran Darrell Gallagher, and will be developing brand-new game experiences
for Xbox and Windows 10. These investments announced by Phil Spencer were to
show the company’s commitment to first-party franchises and exclusives –
increasing the team’s overall resources for developing original content.
Playground Games, which was the headlining name of the bunch
– especially for racing game fans, has had a long-term partnership with
Microsoft and Forza franchise developer Turn 10 Studios. In fact, all titles
shipped by the UK-based developer have been built in collaboration with Turn 10
Studios, and together, both teams have elevated the Forza franchise to all-new
The Forza series had its biggest
year yet in 2017, Microsoft revealed, with more than 22 million unique fans
having enjoyed Forza titles in that 12-month period.
“We could not have reached this success without Playground
Games’ incredible talent, which resulted In 2016’s award-winning, breakout hit,
Forza Horizon 3,” said Alan Hartman, the Studio Head of the Forza franchise. “Playground
Games’ unique, creative vision and passion, together with the power and
resources of Microsoft, will see this innovative team take their talents to an
Playground Games will continue to work on the Forza Horizon
series and their open-world expertise will be applied
to an all-new project, which Microsoft says we’ll learn more about in the
future. Reports have suggested this to be a revival of the dormant Fable
franchise following the closure of its former development team Lionhead Studios
in early 2016.
Following the acquisition of Playground Games, Alan Hartman
will now serve as the Studio Head for the Forza franchise with both Turn 10
Studios and Playground Games reporting directly to him.
Playground Games is currently working on Forza Horizon 4,
which introduces dynamic
seasons into an open-world shared across the entire online community. With
new gameplay experiences, weekly challenges and events, as well as stunning
visuals, fans will get to experience beautiful, historic Britain like never
before in over
450 Forzavista cars as they live the ‘Horizon Life’ together.
Development on Forza Horizon 4 will not be interrupted,
Microsoft says, with a release
date of October 2nd, 2018 penned down for Xbox One, Windows 10, and Xbox
Game Pass – the monthly $10 subscription service from Microsoft that offers
unlimited access to an entire catalogue of more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360
For more on Forza Horizon 4, don’t miss all
our coverage – including our official
trailer breakdown and a first-look at the E3 2018
Demo experience. Stay tuned for more Forza franchise-related news
announcements in the future.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.