In 2012, a new envisioning of Microsoft’s popular racing game series, Forza, appeared on the scene: Forza Horizon. Forza Horizon wasn’t simply a racing game, it was an open-world driving game that invited players to explore a vast world in a variety of cars and progress through a series of tasks and challenges. Even though I was only nominally familiar with the Forza series at the time, I tried my hand at Forza Horizon. It didn’t grab me, but I could certainly see the appeal. Being unleashed into a relatively expansive world solely as a car, so to speak, was something different, if not entirely new. (A few Need for Speed and Burnout games pre-date Forza Horizon.)
Regardless of my own lack of enthusiasm, its been interesting watching the rise of the Forza Horizon series since 2012, and as well, seeing the status of its developer, Playground Games, grow from a small independent studio into something a little grander.
So when I heard of the recent new that Playground Games was expanding into a second studio, and that studio would be developing an open-world, non-driving game, I was more than intrigued. What’s even more interesting, and collegial, is that the second studio isn’t going to be located in some far-away country (Playground Games is based in Royal Lemington Spa, situated between London and Birmingham in England), but rather the plan is for it to be set up rather close to the original studio. Not only would this profit the local community, but it would also help maintain the personal and creative connections between staff members. To quote from Playground Games’ Ralph Fulton (via gamesindustry.biz):
It was a prerequisite when we set up Playground that we wanted to be in the town centre so that we could have a range of options for lunch, we could walk to the pub after work – not just because we like food and drink but because those things build team spirit and bonding. The ability to go after a pint with anyone on the team really helps developers bond over time. Wherever this new studio is around this area, it’s important that we can do the same or similar.
In an age where it sometimes feels like we are more divided than ever, it’s great to hear of a company that seeks to put its people first.
Now, the big question remains: what will this new, open-world, non-driving game be? For that answer, we’ll just have to wait. But based on the road that the Forza Horizon series has taken, I’ve no doubt that players will be in for a treat.
(Article source: gamesindustry.biz)
So let’s speculate! What do you think Playground Games might have hiding up its sleeve for this new game? What do you think about Playground Games foisting some of its creative passions into a new studio?