Former leads on the Forza Horizon series have left the company to begin their own AAA studio in Leamington Spa, UK called Maverick Games. The brand new studio is being headed up by studio head and creative director Mike Brown, who was formerly the creative director of the Forza Horizon series. A number of other former Forza Horizon developers have also joined the company such as executive producer, Tom Butcher, CTO Matt Craven, content director Gareth Harwood, and audio director Fraser Strachan. Alongside them, art director Ben Penrose has also joined the company from Sharkmob, and Elly Marshall has come on as UX/UI Director and previously worked as design director at EA.
The company’s COO is Harinder Sangha who previously helped form Sega Hardlight and Sumo Leamington. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz Brown said:
[In 2021] we shipped Forza Horizon 5, which was a thrill to work on… as much as I had an amazing journey at Playground, I was asking myself, what’s next? Do I stick with this fun, good job? Or do I look for other opportunities?Mike Brown – Creative Director at Maverick Games
Brown noted further that his decision to form Maverick Games was to encourage the studio to take more risks and encourage staff members to speak their minds.
Games are made in a very certain way that brings with it real security. We know that if we do these things in a row, we will hit this date and the game will come out. I think there are other ways where you can still hit that date, but also do a load of new things on the way. It is a truism that you can be creative, or you can be cautious, but you can’t be both. 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.Mike Brown – Creative Director at Maverick Games
While there isn’t any word yet on whether Maverick Games’ first title will be racing-oriented the company said they received a significant level of seed funding and that their debut game would focus on a new, premium open-world title for both consoles and PC. Brown noted:
I’d definitely describe myself as an open world guy first, rather than a driving guy… The game will be open world, it will be AAA, it will be premium, it will have the ambition to go on and win all the awards…Mike Brown – Creative Director at Maverick Games