EA have announced (via GamesIndustry) that the development of the Need for Speed franchise is being handed back to Burnout developers Criterion Games. After having spent the majority of their time on Burnout, Criterion worked on two Need for Speed games – Hot Pursuit in 2010 and Most Wanted in 2012.
Following that, the reins were handed to Ghost Games, who worked on four Need for Speed games in total- Need for Speed Rivals (which Criterion also worked on in a supporting capacity), the 2015 reboot, Need for Speed Payback, and last year’s Need for Speed Heat. For the better part of the decade, Criterion have functioned as a support studio (most recently having developed Battlefield 5’s battle royale mode, Firestorm).
EA has confirmed that Ghost Games will be renamed to EA Gothenburg, and will nor provide engineering aid as a company-wide support hub for EA.
“The engineering expertise in our Gothenburg team, some of whom are architects of the Frostbite engine, is vital to a number of our ongoing projects, and they would remain in that location,” says EA.
Meanwhile, creative talent in Ghost Games will be relocated to various other studios- however, as many as 30 employees are still at risk of losing their jobs.
“Outside of the engineers and those that we plan to transfer to other positions, there would be 30 additional staff in Gothenburg, and we would hope to place as many of them as possible into other roles in the company,” EA said.
The publisher has also explained why this change is being made. Quite simply, Ghost Games’ location – Gothenburg, Sweden – hasn’t suited their needs for attracting talent to work on major AAA productions. As such, EA is moving development of Need for Speed back to Criterion.
“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,” the publisher stated. 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.”