Rumours that a next generation Project Gotham Racing sequel is in the works for Xbox One have been rife for some time now. Speculation started as long ago as 2010, but intensified this year with the impending release of the next generation Xbox One console, as the PGR series has traditionally been Microsoft's flagship racing game at launch.
Earlier this year, sources claimed that Lucid Games, a developer based in Liverpool comprising of ex Bizarre Creations employees who worked on previous Project Gotham games, were developing Project Gotham Racing 5, but the secretive project turned out to be 2K Drive, an iOS street racing game with a distinctly PGR vibe.
With other rumours hinting at the possibility of Turn 10 or Playground Games having a crack at PGR, its deprived fanbase held out hope for a revival. It turns out they would be wise not to hold their hopes up however, as Microsoft have now confirmed that no PGR game is currently in development, and is unlikely to be any time soon.
In a podcast with IGN, Microsoft Boss Phil Spencer was quick to quash any rumours: "Some of the rumours around PGR were probably us working on Forza Horizon with Playground, and people were guessing it was a PGR game," he said.
When asked if PGR has a future, Spencer responded: "Maybe. I think the Kudos system that we had in PGR was the real secret sauce. I thought that was the thing that people really loved. It had a great feel, it was there at launch, which I think was important."
Times have changed however – Forza has since taken over as Microsoft's flagship racing title, leaving little room for PGR according to Spencer: "We talk, [Forza developer Turn 10 head] Alan Hartman and I, talk about PGR. I think we're kind of full in the racing space right now when we think about our franchises, but I know there's a lot of love for that franchise out there and it'd be interesting to think about what we could do. I don't know that we'd ever have three console racing franchises. That seems like a lot for a first party with Forza Horizon and obviously Forza Motorsport."
When challenged about Forza's dominance Spencer retorted: "Forza Horizon is not PGR from an arcade style, but it's not me sitting on a circuit running lap after lap," Spencer said. "It's more of an open world. There's maybe an opportunity for us to look at some of the stuff that worked in PGR and think about how to…"
It's interesting to note how Spencer refers to Forza Motorsport and Horizon as two separate franchises – making the possibility of a Forza Horizon sequel increasingly plausible. It's a shame to see PGR written off though as it complimented Forza perfectly, with PGR catering for the arcade crowd and Forza occupying the sim scene. It's a similar strategy that Sony have currently adopted with its two first party racing franchises: you have DriveClub aiming to appeal to casual and hardcore racers alike in stark contrast to Gran Turismo's sophisticated simulation. Spencer may argue that Forza has now been split into two franchises, but they are still both aimed at sim racers.
So there you have it – it could still be a very long wait for another PGR to surface, if at all. Coincidentally, Bizarre Creation's other deceased franchise Blur was rebooted today with Blur: Overdrive, a topdown mobile spin-off for iOS by Marmalade who bought the rights for the franchise from Activision.