EA has confirmed that the development of future Need for Speed titles will be handed back to the previous development team behind the series, Criterion Software, taking over for current developer Ghost Games.
The Need for Speed series has been in the hands of the Gothenburg, Sweden-based Ghost Games since 2013’s Need for Speed: Rivals, and the studio oversaw the development of the franchise through its 2015 reboot, 2017’s Payback, and last year’s Heat. All of the games were given fairly lukewarm receptions by fans and critics alike, and EA has admitted that this decision has been taken due to issues with attracting talent to the studio.
Criterion, which created the Burnout franchise and the RenderWare engine used extensively in the PS2 generation of games, developed the previous two games to those produced by Ghost Games: Hot Pursuit from 2010 and Most Wanted from 2012. With the studio based in Guilford, just outside London, the ability to attract talent is less of an issue for the studio.
Criterion was originally split to form part of Ghost Games, and the members of the U.K. side of Ghost Games are likely to come back under the control of Criterion.
The developer has since been supporting other EA titles rather than developing their own titles, with work produced for Star Wars Battlefront II and Battlefield V. They are also without the studio’s founders, Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry, who left after the split to join with Ghost Games.
Ghost Games is now to be turned into an engineering-based studio that will support other EA projects, though EA confirmed that roles could be at risk within the studio.
With the two founding members of Criterion gone, whether this will bring the level of quality back to the Need for Speed series that EA is looking for remains to be seen, but a studio with the pedigree of Criterion could certainly help with any new titles that EA have planned.