During the Xbox Press Conference at E3 this year, one of the worst kept secrets was announced. Microsoft was buying Playground Games. The Forza Horizon developer has said in an interview with EDGE magazine (as reported by wccftech.com) that it was their in-development open-world RPG that that influenced the decision –
Ralph Fulton (Chief Creative Officer) – “[It] definitely influenced our decision, and Xbox’s decision, to take this step together. It wouldn’t take a genius to work out that they were both with Xbox. The amount of content we’re going to be bringing to the family was a crucial factor, there.”
Gavin Raeburn (Studio Director) – “We felt we’d achieved success in racing, and wanted to continue that – we love the genre. But we felt that if we wanted to really make a milestone for the studio, we should look for success in a different genre as well. Again it made sense to partner with Microsoft, and they were really supportive.”
Ralph Fulton went on to talk about the second team’s (developing the RPG) move to their own offices at the beginning of next year and how they aim to keep a close connection between the teams –
“It’s incredibly important to us that they don’t become siloed off from each other. I joke about it being five minutes walk, but that is a significant distance in how it affects the working relationships and knowledge sharing.
We’re going to work really hard to make sure there are still strong ties between those two teams right across each team, to make sure we are sharing best practices, offering guidance and advice wherever either team can. Because our strength comes from that communication and it will make both teams better. I do think it’s a very good idea that, for the first year or so of that team’s life, they’ve been here. They’ve spent time bonding within the overall culture of Playground.”
He went on to talk about the advantages that they’ve already seen from being a first-party studio rather than just being the hired help –
“We could talk to other studios, but it had to be filtered, you had to go through certain channels. If we wanted to find out about new technology or initiatives that were coming through, there was a time and a place for that to happen, and it was usually just behind the curve. Now that we’re a first party studio, I can pick up the phone and dial out to 343 Studios, The Coalition, Ninja Theory – we can start talking about technology, tools, all of those conversations are easy to have.
And hopefully, we can get involved with future planning for consoles and other initiatives. Even though not a great deal of time has passed since the acquisition – just before E3, end of May – there are already things we’ve had disclosed to us that we didn’t know.”
Of course, it is heavily rumoured that the open-world RPG they are working on is a reboot of the Fable franchise. Whatever it is, with their pedigree from the Forza Horizon games, you can be sure that we will be keeping a very close eye on it.