Need for Speed as a franchise hasn’t been all bad in the 2010s, but they haven’t been all good either in the greater scheme of things. And they’ve also had a godawful middle child between middling releases. Constantly being lapped by numerous other games within its circuit genre, Need for Speed at its very best still fails to stand out from the pack. That’s not to say that Ghost Games haven’t given it a good go, but the magic that made games such as the original Hot Pursuit or Underground such cult classics has been sorely lacking throughout the 2010s.
As of now, developer Ghost Games is scaling back and handing that vehicle to EA’s other racing game studio: Criterion.
If the name rings a bell, it bloody well should. Criterion pumped out the amazing Burnout games in their heyday, fast-paced crash-heavy racers that resulted in EA tasking the team with developing Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Hot Pursuit. Speaking to Games Industry, EA confirmed the new arrangement and explained that Ghost Games will now revert back to the name of EA Gothenburg and focus on providing engineering support. Which will see 30 jobs sadly cut from the team roster.
“With a strong history and passion for racing games and vision for what we can create, the Criterion team is going to take Need for Speed into the next-generation,” EA said.
Ghost Games have helped to bring some great Need for Speed experiences to our players. Consistently delivering that at AAA levels means we need teams with diverse skills in locations where we can continually support them and bring in new team members to join. Despite our best efforts to establish an independent development group in Gothenburg over several years, it’s become clear that the breadth of talent we need to maintain a full AAA studio is just not available to us there.
Criterion can also provide the consistent leadership that we need to continue creating and delivering new Need for Speed experiences for a long time to come. Criterion is a fantastic studio, and we’re looking forward to adding to their talented team and building a great future for Need for Speed. The engineering teams in Gothenburg are also vital to our ongoing plans across EA.
How much of that Need for Speed magic can Criterion bring back to the franchise? It’s not exactly a given at this point, as the Guildford studio saw its co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry depart in 2014, with the studio being reduced to a support role within EA as it flexed its development muscles across multiple games. Still, if anyone can make Need for Speed a contender once again, it’s the studio that’s responsible for some of its greatest hits from a bygone era.
Last Updated: February 13, 2020