Game PassOpinion

Forza Horizon 5: The Hidden Pillar of Game Pass

Game Pass, Xbox’s widely acclaimed subscription service, offers hundreds of games to players for a low monthly cost. Since the service’s inception in 2017, Xbox has continued to invest in the service, with third party deals, a plethora of innovative indie games, and exclusive day one first party titles. The quality of the games found within the service has convinced subscribers to remain loyal.

One title in particular from Xbox’s first party has quietly driven engagement within the service while simultaneously garnering critical acclaim and smashing player count milestones: Forza Horizon 5.

Playground Game’s excellent entry into their world renowned open world racing series has proven to be a powerhouse game for Game Pass even while being routinely ignored amongst media circles. How do we measure the game’s success then? Let’s talk about it.

Critical Acclaim

There are many ways to quantify Forza Horizon 5’s value to Game Pass, but let’s start from the beginning with critical acclaim. While we don’t believe reviews are the end all be all of qualifying if a game is good or not, overall critical consensus is a decent way to gauge how people may feel about a game.

Forza Horizon 5 was met with undeniable critical acclaim and is widely considered as one of the best racing games ever made. The aggregate reviews site Metacritic has the game sitting at a 92 overall score, giving it the esteemed status of a metacritic must play. Reviews lauded the games graphical prowess, best in class sound design, impressive open world, and most importantly, dedication to great racing.

The reviews for this game weren’t shocking considering Playground Games’s track record in delivering great games in the series, but it was clear from critics that Forza Horizon 5 was a culmination of the previous games and firmly planted the series as a juggernaut in the gaming industry.

Pre- Launch Sales

Individual game sales aren’t Microsoft’s main metric to determine a game’s success as their inclusion of first party games on Game Pass means their focus is instead on total player counts. That being said, the pre sale numbers for Forza Horizon 5 give an indication of just how in demand the game was leading up to its official release.

Forza Horizon 5 launched for early access players on November 5th, 2021. You could access the game before its official launch on November 9th with an upgrade bundle if you were a Game Pass member or spend 99$ for the full game’s ultimate edition bundle. In the 4 days between the early access period and official launch day, well over one million players had played the game, meaning a large amount of players bought the ultimate edition just to play the game a few days early. This stat may be a small one in the grand scheme of the entire game but just goes to show how high the anticipation was for the game.

Sustained Popularity and Growth

Forza Horizon 5 has been a huge game since day Zero and has continued to grow and sustain a player base since its launch. We already know about its successful pre launch numbers, but also know the game was the biggest Xbox Game Studios launch ever with 4.5 million players on its opening day. It surpassed 10 million players during its opening week, 20 million players in under 7 months, and has recently surpassed the 28 million player mark a year and 4 months since its launch.

The game continues to draw players in, and its player count has sustained. Looking at the Game Pass most popular list, it’s frequently among the top games, as of this writing sitting at the top spot, ahead of juggernaut games like Minecraft.

With this steady player base that continues to grow by the day, Forza Horizon 5 could be considered an “evergreen” title for Xbox Game Pass. The type of game that is consistently popular, a “must have” for anyone joining the Xbox platform. In many ways, it’s replaced Halo as the title to look for when getting into Xbox. No matter the angle you look at it, Forza Horizon 5 is an undeniable force for Xbox and shows no signs of slowing down.

Looking Ahead

While Forza Horizon 5 is still going strong well over a year after release, eventually it will be “replaced” by the inevitable Forza Horizon followup. We can’t predict the future, but we feel confident that developer Playground Games will somehow be able to raise the bar again quality wise, and we expect the series to continue to grow and reach more and more players.

Forza Horizon 5 isn’t the first great game in the series, but marked the first time the series truly broke through to become a mainstream juggernaut that is able to help lift an ecosystem. We anticipate the Forza Horizon series maintaining its status as one of the Pillars of Game Pass going forward, sitting amongst other highly sought after games in the service as a driver of players to propel Xbox’s subscription service to new heights.

Austin "Proven"

Writer and Contributor for XboxEra. Halo 3 is a perfect game.

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