Believe it or not, Forza Horizon 5 isn’t the first game in the series to be developed with Xbox Game Pass in mind. Many of the necessary staples are there on show in Forza Horizon 4, it’s just that the developer wasn’t exactly sure that the service would be a hit.
Fast forward to today and, with somewhere in the range of 30,000,000 subscribers, it would appear that Xbox Game Pass is here to stay.
“We got very good at being a Game Pass game,” said Mike Brown, Creative Director at Playground Games. “You do have to look at things differently.”
There are a lot of things that make up being a ‘Game Pass game,’ but for Playground Games, their success within the service stemmed from offering great social features and a reason to return. Somewhat of an industry anomaly, the fact players could return to the game after months is something Brown considers one of the “curious facts” about the Xbox Game Pass service itself.
“There are some curious facts that are true of Game Pass game design,” Brown states matter-of-factly.
“No one ever trades you in and they might not install it, but they always own it. You’re always gonna be a little thumbnail on the dash and that means the friction to get you back in the game is very low.”
Though Brown concedes the secret to succeeding on Xbox Game Pass is in giving gamers cause to play together.
“When someone in your friendship group plays the title, then all of your friends that are on Game Pass have that title,” Brown says. “If you can have social features or features that encourage you to say: “Hey, can we do this thing in co-op?” then your game is going to do better on Game Pass.”
In keeping with how people approach Game Pass titles, Forza Horizon 5’s Festival Playlists are built with the short-term in mind. They’re a week-to-week proposition, making them more engaging and accessible than quarterly battle passes that are commonplace and have players feeling late to the party.
“It feels like a snackable and manageable amount of stuff that’s new that you can jump into right now and, in a few days, there’ll be some more. I think, again, that really helps blend with the way people play games on Game Pass.”
Forza Horizon 5 releases for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Game Pass on November 5, 2021.