Forza Horizon 5 has already sold more than Returnal – and it isn't on Game Pass yet

Forza Horizon 5 featuring sports cars and a plane
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Forza Horizon 5 doesn't release until Tuesday, November 9, but that hasn’t stopped over a million players from purchasing the game to gain early access.

According to the game’s Hall of Fame leaderboard, over a million players have set times, which suggests that, just from early access sales alone, Forza Horizon 5 has already outsold Sony’s excellent PS5-exclusive, Returnal.

As of July, Returnal had sold 560,000 copies since its April release. We expect that number may have tipped over 600,000, or perhaps even 700,000 in the months since, as game sales typically slow down dramatically after a game’s release month. 

This isn’t quite a victory lap for Microsoft though, as Sony's heavy hitters Spider-Man Miles Morales, MLB: The Show, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart are all likely sitting comfortably ahead with sales of 6.5 million, two million, and one million sales respectively as of July.

It's worth noting that for a new IP and at a price of $70/£70, Returnal has certainly done well for Sony. 

Analysis: is Game Pass a winning strategy?

Those enjoying Forza’s early access had to either purchase the Premium Edition of the game ($99.99 / £84.99 / AU$149.95) or if they own Game Pass they could opt for the Premium Add-ons bundle ($49.99 / £39.99 / AU$69.95).

We don’t know what percentage of players have upgraded compared with those that bought the Premium Edition outright, but it shows that even with Game Pass savings available, players are still happy to shell out to enjoy the latest and greatest releases a little bit sooner.

A car looks out on the desert in Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Microsoft)

It also suggests that Xbox’s Game Pass plan might be paying off. Gamers are given more choice on how they want to play a game and whatever they pick still fills Microsoft's pockets. Some will pay a premium to own a game outright, while others will happily subscribe to make a saving. 

The savings people make by opting for Game Pass might still come Xbox’s way though, as the Forza Horizon 5 early access numbers show that people are more than happy to pay for DLC and add-ons for the games they enjoy. 

From the outside looking in it really does seem like a win-win situation all-round, but without official figures, it’s hard to know for certain if Microsoft is seeing as many benefits as players.

We can't just thank Game Pass for Forza Horizon 5 success, as it's likely the game's simultaneous PC release is also contributing to its sales success. Rather than having to rely on its relatively small Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S player bases, Microsoft can also leverage the huge number of PC players out there - unlike Returnal which is limited to just PS5 players.

Much like those on consoles, PC players can choose to buy the game outright or play it as part of Xbox Game Pass for PC (which costs the same as the console version). They'll be included in the list of over one million early access players too, helping Forza achieve its early success.

If Forza continues to streak past Sony's other exclusive games we might see the Japanese company reduce the delay between its PlayStation and PC release dates - with massive games like God of War only losing its console-exclusive status nearly three years after release.

An ex-Sony CEO is adamant that players will never see a day and date release on both PS5 and PC for its exclusive titles, but if Microsoft shows that there are huge financial benefits Sony's hand might be forced. We'll just have to wait and see what happens when Forza finally releases for everybody on November 9.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.