Need For Speed franchise goes home to Criterion Games amid EA restructure

Electronic Arts makes a U-turn returning Need for Speed to developer Criterion Games through company restructuring.

Criterion Games, which is best known for creating the Burnout franchise, developed Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit in 2010 and Need For Speed: Most Wanted in 2012 — the franchise’s most critically well-received titles.

EA then moved the franchise over to Ghost Games, which developed four Need For Speed titles between 2013 and 2019, including a full franchise reboot title in 2015. Its most recent installment was last year’s lukewarm Need For Speed Heat.

Meanwhile, EA shifted Criterion’s focus to developmental support in 2013. The studio provided additional resources for several DICE games, including Star Wars Battlefront II and Battlefield V, and much of Criterion’s team moved over to Ghost Games.

Now, Ghost Games faces downsizing amid the latest shakeup, and the two studios will switch roles as Ghost Games becomes an engineering hub providing support for EA projects. It will also return to its original name, EA Gothenburg, and parent-company EA plans to move part of Ghost Games’ creative team to Criterion.

The decision essentially reverses the company’s 2013 restructuring, which EA addressed in a recent interview.

“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,” EA told Gameindustry.biz.

Location played a large part in the decision, according to EA, which confessed it struggled to find the necessary talent in Gothenburg compared to Guilford, where Criterion is based.

“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.”

Within the uncertainty of corporate restructuring is a reason for Need For Speed fans to celebrate. Criterion’s track record with Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted offers hope, and while the studio has not produced a game of its own since 2012, it did develop Battlefield V’s battle royale mode.

Digital Trends reached out to EA for comment and we’ll update the story when we hear back.

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