Playground Games has been having a great two months. Released on November 9, 2021, Forza Horizon 5 saw over 10 million players in its first ten days, making it the game with the largest first week in both Xbox and Game Pass history. The ultra-realistic racing title managed to pull in 1 million early access players and boasted a concurrent player count over three times higher than its predecessor Forza Horizon 4 in 2018. Despite their win streak, Microsoft has announced that the co-founder of Playground Games and industry veteran Gavin Raeburn has left the company. Serving as the Studio Director over the Forza Horizon games for the past twelve years, Raeburn will be replaced by the general manager and fellow co-founder Trevor Williams.
Alan Hartman, Microsoft’s CVP of Forza and Fable, gave a statement to Windows Central.
“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,” Hartman said.
Raeburn’s future plans are unclear. During his time in the games industry, he’s worked on a number of racing titles including DiRT and GRID. Early in his career, he coded titles like Lazer Force and Poltergeist for Codemasters, where he spent decades before co-founding Playground Games.
Forza Horizon 5 is preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and players will be able to snag several new cars and festive car horns. The Forza Horizon 5 Car Pass will introduce four cars over the next month that are appearing in the series for the first time. These include the 1966 Jaguar XJ13 (January 6), the 1993 Jaguar XJ220S TWR (January 13), the 2018 Ferrari FXX-K Evo (January 20), and the 2018 Audi TT RS (January 27).