Skip to main content

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

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Title of new Need for Speed game leaks ahead of Thursday’s reveal
Police car chasing a supercar down the street.

Electronic Arts recently teased that a reveal for a new Need for Speed game was coming soon, and then announced that a trailer would be shown at 8 a.m. PT on October 6. But two days before the event, EA's own site accidentally leaked the name of the upcoming game, which we now know is called Need for Speed Unbound.

The leaked artwork is in a more cel-shaded and cartoonish style, with a car trailing yellow-colored smoke and graffiti plastered on it. The graffiti includes iconography like the anarchy symbol, nuclear symbol, and dollar sign.

Read more
EA is removing Russian teams from FIFA, NHL games
Kylian Mbappé in FIFA 22.

In two separate announcements on Twitter, publishing giant EA stated that it is in the process of removing multiple prominent Russian teams from two of the biggest sports franchises on the market: FIFA and NHL. The move is being done in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Read more
Knockout City parts ways with EA and goes free-to-play
knockout city free to play june

Velan Studios unveiled season 5 of Knockout City today. Alongside that announcement, the developer also confirmed that it will take over publishing duties from EA and that Knockout City will go free-to-play with Season 6.
Knockout City season 5, which begins on March 1 and is titled Greatest Hits, is supposed to serve as a celebration of the first year of the game. While it won't add a new Brawl Pass, map, or ball, it will bring back Basketbrawl, Chain Reaction, and Superpowers! While Season 5 will be fairly low-key for Knockout City, some drastic changes are in store with Season 6.
Knockout City: Greatest Hits Season 5 Reveal Trailer
When season 6 starts on June 1, 2022, the game will go free-to-play. Previously, Knockout City only had a free trial and required players to purchase the game after they hit level 25. It is also part of EA Play and was previously a PlayStation Plus title, but Velan Studios is now simplifying its availability and making it free-to-play to anyone across all platforms. Anyone who bought the game before this transition will get a season 6 loyalty bundle that includes exclusive cosmetics, 2,000 Holobux, and XP boosts. 
As part of this transition, Velan will take over publishing duties from Electronic Arts. Previously, Knockout City was part of its EA Originals program. Once this transition is complete, all major decisions and the future of Knockout City are solely in the indie developer's hands. 
Knockout City is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch, though players might want to wait until June 1, 2022, to try it. 

Read more