Forza Horizon 5 had an absolutely explosive launch on Xbox Game Pass. With over 10 million players checking out Playground Games' fifth entry in the Forza Horizon series, it's little surprise they'd want to try and replicate that success with future titles.
It seems like that Game Pass-driven success will be reshaping how Playground Games is developing its titles, with an eye toward designing features friendly toward Game Pass users.
During a post-ceremony chat at the 2022 DICE Awards, Playground Games creative director Mike Brown told reporters that the focus on Game Pass is tweaking how the developer about its games.
"I would say we learned a lot about being on Game Pass through the full life cycle of Forza Horizon 4," he added in response to a question from The Washington Post. "I think we learned really how to make a really good Game Pass game...that speaks to the lifestyle of a Game Pass user."
Brown added some commentary that might resonate with developers thinking about releasing day-one on Xbox Game Pass. "It is a different space. Game Pass is different to walking into a shop and dropping $60-$70 on a game." He noted that when studying users who had access to the "full library" of Game Pass, it was beneficial to remember players might dip out from playing, only to return later.
"So we build games that allow you to come back and drop in easily--and every time you drop back in it's like 'hey, welcome back, here's another stuff you can do.'"
With the subscription service battles heating up, it seems like Playground Games is shifting its development strategy for a Game Pass-first development approach--and other developers (even ones working on smaller titles) might want to do the same when targeting this platform.
Correction: An earlier version of this story neglected to include Microsoft's announced plans to release all of its first-party games on Game Pass. We've updated our story to focus on Brown's explanation on the difference between targeting Game Pass users and single-purchase users.