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Microsoft’s ‘Forza’ video games top $1 billion in sales

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 14, 2017, 11:36 a.m.

A gamer goes hands on with "Forza Horizon 3" at the Xbox booth at E3 2016 in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (Casey Rodgers / Invision for Microsoft)
A gamer goes hands on with "Forza Horizon 3" at the Xbox booth at E3 2016 in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (Casey Rodgers / Invision for Microsoft)
By Matt Day The Seattle Times

Microsoft has minted its fifth billion-dollar video-game franchise. The “Forza” racing series in December topped $1 billion in lifetime sales since the first game’s release 12 years ago, Microsoft said Monday.

Microsoft-owned Turn 10 Studios released “Forza Horizon 3” last year, the ninth game in the series. The original “Forza Motorsport” was released in 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360 console.

Racing games are a staple of game consoles, an accessible genre that can appeal to casual gamers and hard-core racing geeks alike. They are typically used to push the limits of the graphical realism that console hardware can produce.

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all make their own exclusive games to drum up interest in their game consoles. Nintendo’s “Super Mario” doesn’t bound around on PlayStation or Xbox, and Microsoft’s “Halo” Master Chief fights exclusively on Xbox, with occasional forays into Windows computers.

“Forza” is Microsoft’s answer to PlayStation’s “Gran Turismo.”

Microsoft’s billion-dollar club is led by “Halo,” the sci-fi shooter that has grossed more than $5 billion and been the flagship Xbox game since the release of the original game in 2001.

Microsoft’s “Age of Empires” franchise, primarily personal-computer games, also has sold more than $1 billion. And in 2014, Microsoft bought two franchises with more than $1 billion in sales: “Gears of War” and world-building game “Minecraft.”

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