Need for Speed Returns to Criterion

EA has told Gamesindustry.biz that it will move staff from Ghost Games, the current leaders of Need for Speed, to Criterion. The Burnout creators and previous developers of EA's racing franchise will take over the NFS series in the wake of this shift. While many people's jobs will be safe in this transfer, 30 positions are still at risk as of writing.

Need for Speed Payback (Source: Ghost Games/EA)

EA will move the development of the Need for Speed franchise away from current lead developer Ghost Games (formerly EA Gothenburg and is in the process of going back to its former name) and return to the UK based studio, Criterion.

EA told Gamesindustry.biz about the plans that will follow this decision. For one, Ghost Games engineers, many of whom have worked on the publisher’s Frostbite engine, and other staff members will move to Criterion. However, 30 positions are up in the air during this shift in talent at the Gothenburg studio.

“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 to Gamesindustry.biz.

The reason behind this is that EA struggled to employ people to the Gothenburg company. Criterion, based in Guildford, is a hotspot for game developers living in England. Studios like Supermassive Games, who developed Until Dawn, and the now-closed down Lionhead Studios, which was set to create the canceled Fable Legends for Microsoft. Due to its placement, it makes for an easier place to hire talent.

Ghost Games began its run with 2013’s Need for Speed Rivals along 2015’s Need for Speed, 2017’s Need for Speed Payback, and 2019’s Need for Speed Heat.

Criterion had a longer history compared to the Swedish studio. It has developed titles for the racing franchise in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Need for Speed: Most Wanted, along with other series like Burnout. The Guildford-based team has helped DICE with Battlefield V, Star Wars: Battlefront: Rogue One X-Wing VR, and Star Wars: Battlefront II.

The last title to release for the racing series came from 2019’s Need for Speed Heat, which launched to fairly mixed but overall positive reviews along with the best first-week sales numbers compared to any other NFS entry this generation.

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