Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport could be set for a shock switch to PlayStation, as rumors swirl around Microsoft’s intentions to develop its previously Xbox-exclusive titles for other consoles.
This seemingly improbable outcome is a natural extension of a variety of rumors that have been circulating since late-2023. Initially these surrounded the possibility of perennial favorite Sea of Thieves and 2023 hit Hi-Fi Rush evolving from Xbox-exclusive to release on PlayStation 5 and/or — depending on the rumor — Nintendo Switch.
The situation has accelerated rapidly since, with the latter title all-but confirmed for both platforms. If that weren’t quite enough, Xbox-centric site XboxEra published, based on insider information, that the Bethesda-developed “Skyrim in space” Starfield was being prepared for a PlayStation 5 version following the “Shattered Space” story DLC expansion scheduled later in 2024.
Following that bombshell, The Verge posted that a title still in development at Bethesda — Indiana Jones and the Great Circle — was also in the pipeline for a PlayStation 5 release. This, it said, would be made available after a short Xbox/PC exclusivity window beginning with the game’s launch planned for December 2024. Gears of War has also been tagged as a title under consideration for the move.
It’s a strategy that shouldn’t come as too much of a shock though. Xbox executives have been making statements over the past few months suggesting that Microsoft’s goal is to get its games onto every screen that it can, whether that’s on Xbox/PC or elsewhere.
Even Microsoft’s chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella, commented that with the purchase of Activision Blizzard Inc it would be a “good publisher … on Sony, Nintendo” during an interview with Bloomberg as recently as January. The company has of course pledged to keep ABI’s Call of Duty titles on PlayStation too.
Frank admissions from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer that Xbox “lost the biggest console generation there is to lose” with the One console against the record-setting PlayStation 4 have also stoked the fire. Recent financial results show that hardware grew by just 3%, against a much rosier overall 49% growth from Xbox in general, while Microsoft also laid off almost 2,000 development staff in January.
However, the question remains how far it will go with this push to a third-party publisher position on PlayStation consoles. All of the titles mooted above are from studios that Microsoft has acquired over the years, whereas IPs like Halo (in its current guise) and the Forza franchise are from Xbox’s own internal studios.
We’re likely to see some clarification on this in the coming days, as Spencer himself has Tweeted in response to the above rumors. That’s only further fueled the fires though, as rather than an unequivocal denial, Spencer posted that “a business update event for next week” (beginning February 12) will see the brand communicate “more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox”.
This could mean that, as its most priceless treasures, Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport will be the last titles it lets go — or, as the most profitable, sooner rather than later. Either way, it’s no longer unthinkable that we’ll see Forza Motorsport going head to head with Gran Turismo on the same console.