Xbox Game Studios |OT4| This is for Studio talk. Studios. It's the Studios OT. Studio talk here (Part 1)

I thoroughly enjoyed GOT… great combat, beautiful stylistic choices for the world etc.

Only downside was the slightly repetitive structure quest structure.

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I hated defoging the map and having to run around like a headless chicken figuring out what is left to do per area.

I don’t understand this hate for Ghost of Tsushima. Game was completely fine, one of the better ones I played in the past few years and I’m someone who’s fairly burned out on the open world formula.

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Dont think anybody is hating but I put like 30 hours into it and besides visuals the game doesnt really do anything that hasnt been done before. Its just assassins creed japan with the sony AAA coat and polish which isnt bad but I personally didn’t care enough to finish it and went back to finish an assassins creed game I had dropped two times already.

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Tbh, I wish Xbox had a studio that put out a game of that scope and quality over the past few years. The Sony AAA coat is pretty impressive. It’s likely because I have Japanese blood, but I found Ghost to be more appealing than just about any AC game I’ve played in recent memory, even Odyssey.

Games are coming but Flight Sim was highly praised last year

I’ve had people tell me that Flight Sim literally doesn’t count because:

  • It’s not a game.
  • It’s not on console.

With the second argument soon to be dust, people are doubling down on the first one.

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Playground Games currently has around 300 employees and about 80 additional open positions. The studio has multiple teams, but two “main project teams“. The studio revealed in mid 2018 that the ultimate goal is to grow both teams to ca. 200 developers each, so 400 employees for the studio in total. My estimate is that the studio will come close to that target in 2022.

Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios are deeply connected to each other, with both studios working on the Forza franchise as well as sharing the same engine with ForzaTech. There will be many overlaps and sharing between the two studios, please keep that in mind.

As always, all these teams will use additional studios for outsourcing. Sumo Digital, as an example, historically always helped with selected segments of Forza Horizon development.

Studio Head: Gavin Raeburn

Vice President of Forza and Fable: Alan Hartman (Turn 10)

Forza Horizon team:

  • Game Director: Mike Brown
  • Team size: ca. 150 employees
  • Development/pre-production started likely just after Forza Horizon 4 shipped, so around October 2018. There were two big Forza Horizon 4 Expansions, so full-production was likely later, around Summer 2019.
  • Running on ForzaTech
  • Every of the 4 main Forza Horizon games so far had less than two years of development time. The current Forza Horizon will have more than that, likely because of many different factors (Covid, building a second Fable team, more time for the next Forza Horizon in general, no need to rush as FH4 does well)
  • mid - far in development

Fable team:

  • Game Director: Ralph Fulton
  • Team size: ca. 120 employees
  • Development started early 2018 (pre-production)
  • Apparently Fable is running on a custom engine, based on a “graduate programmer” position description. This could be a customised ForzaTech version.
  • Fantasy open-world Action RPG
  • early - mid in development

Forza Horizon 4 Live-Service team:

  • Dedicated team to locate resources to Forza Horizon 4 without impacting Fable/Forza Horizon Next development
  • In June 2019 Ralph Fulton said: “The live service team is dedicated solely to updating Forza Horizon 4, which avoids diverting resources from the inevitable sequel [FH5] or its unannounced project [now known as Fable].”
  • Team size difficult to estimate; I’d say 20 - 30 is a fair guess
  • So far successfully delivered 34 monthly Series’ with new modes, events, cars and other content
  • Lead Forza Horizon 4 to being the most successful Xbox game during the Xbox One generation
  • Since launch, Forza Horizon 4 has been played by over 24 Million players.

Tech sharing team:

  • Shared team across Playground Games / Turn 10 Studios
  • Since April 2019, both studios started “Building a new tech sharing team across the Forza and Fable franchises“, revealed via a Turn 10 de LinkedIn bio

There are obviously more teams like licensing, community, marketing, administration and stuff, but that’s basically the case for any studio.

The Forza and Fable teams are located in two dedicated studios, both located in Leamington Spa, UK. Ralph Fulton in June 2019: “The two teams [Forza & Fable] are very closely linked from a technology-sharing perspective. Both teams can see the benefit of working closely together, there’s no reason to not do that.”

As always, I hope this helps. Likely one of the best studios in the industry, very well managed, constantly and efficiently delivering quality and critically acclaimed content.


Well it is a major market for the Xbox brand. It is quite big in that area, so a Forza Horizon set in Mexico would be like an homage to them :).

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Thank you for your precise explanation of the studio, looking forward to the next Forza Horizon which is now one of the biggest Xbox franchise

Love these studio posts you’ve been doing with Obsidian and Playground. Keep it up!


Playground games is the standard for XGS when it comes to delivering popular critically games. What they have done is pretty incredible. Ralph Fulton was the director for FH4 right? That means Mike Brown got promoted from principal game designer to Game director for Forza horizon 5.

I’m curious to know what will happen to the Fable team when they finish developing the game, will they help with Forza or will they continue to work on Fable or another IP?

Do you think we get another peek at Phil’s shelf before E3?


I have been informed that Phil’s shelf is actually in his office.

Really nice.

I wonder how Turn 10 is growing too, I’m fan of Motorsport so hope that the next one can blow our minds.

Once again a awesome post.

Do I misremember or was Fable unreal engine first? Also early-mid in development. I wonder if 2022 is a possibility at all then. I probably should start preparing for a 2023 release at the earliest. Ah well, we could be having Starfield this year, maybe Avowed next year.

Do you know the targeted release for Avowed?

Thie part always amazes me. Very cool, indeed.

Playground ihas relatively deeper integration model that is working very very well.

The way they have expanded the teams to retain the Playground culture is also cool. I read their interview in 2018/19 on this.

Xbox Game Studios is so unpredictable because all those studios have more than one team working on different projects.

Take WB Games for example. They have Avalanche working on Hogwarts Legacy, Rocksteady working on Justice League, TT Games working on The Skywalker Saga and WB Montreal working on Gotham Knights. That leaves us with Monolith and NetherRealm with unannounced projects.

No one expects a second title from those studios.

XGS, on the other hand… Mojang worked on Minecraft, Minecraft Dungeons and Minecraft Earth, Playground is working on Horizon 4, 5 and Fable, Obsidian is working on every game on the whole world…


Hmmm… Former Bioware.

Hmm… The Old Republic…

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