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Forza Horizon veterans found new studio focused on open-world "premium” games

Not necessarily racing games, though

Several senior figures from Forza Horizon developer Playground Games have broken away to develop new open-worlds at their own studio. Maverick Games is based in Leamington Spa, UK, and headed up by Forza Horizon 5’s creative director Mike Brown. Brown also fills the role of creative director at Maverick. Harinder Sangha, formerly of Sega Hardlight and Sumo Leamington, will run the studio as chief operations officer.

Former vid bud Matthew really rated Forza Horizon 4, aka the Blighty one.

Brown credits the Maverick moniker to a word that kept cropping up during his performance appraisals while working at Playground. It seems to be the mission goal for the new studio, who aim to take creative risks. “Don't be boxed in by rules that might not even be real,” Brown said in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. Joining Brown and Sangha on the 10-strong staff at Maverick are some other Forizon vets, including executive producer Tom Butcher, chief technology officer Matt Craven, content director Gareth Harwood, and audio director Fraser Strachan.

Art director Ben Penrose is another former Playground staffer, joining from Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt devs Sharkmob. UI/UX director Elly Marshall is hopping aboard from EA, where she was experience design director. Maverick are aiming to build their staff up to a team of 140. Sangha and Brown say they want the company to help improve diversity within the industry, and make “developer-first” games that give all Maverick's staff a voice in their creation. Those will be "premium" games, but Brown points out they might not be the racing games Playground are known for.

Although he didn’t go into detail about what Maverick are working on, Brown expects they’ll be trying to capture our increasingly short attention spans. “I saw a stat that the average time spent watching a TikTok video is three seconds. It's hard to build a game for an attention span of three seconds. It's probably impossible,” he told GIbiz. “So we need to build our games where we are always addressing every player, always giving them something to do, never letting them get to that bit in a game where it's just going to repeat for 15 hours until you get to the credits.”

We’ll keep you informed when Maverick share more about what they're working on.

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About the Author
CJ Wheeler avatar

CJ Wheeler


CJ used to write about steam locomotives but now covers Steam instead. Likes visual novels, most things with dungeons and/or crawling, and any shooter with a suitably chunky shotgun. He’s from Yorkshire, which means he’s legally obliged to enjoy a cup of tea and a nice sit down.

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