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Most fans agree that Need For Speed has spent the last few years stuck in something of a rut. Last year's Need For Speed Heat, for example, was a solid enough effort that was simply lacking the energy and heart of previous entries. Fortunately, EA seems keen to return the much-loved racing franchise to its former glory
To achieve this goal, EA is looking to Criterion Games to take back control of the Need For Speed series. The UK-based studio perhaps best known for the Burnout franchise has offered behind-the-scenes support on Need For Speed for several years now, while Ghost Games took lead on the last few titles. Now, Criterion is taking charge while Ghost Games scales down.
In its 25 years, Need For Speed has been worked on by various developers. Criterion were responsible for 2010's Hot Pursuit and 2012's Most Wanted, before Ghost Games took lead for 2013's Rivals, 2015's Need For Speed, 2017's Payback, and last year's Heat.
EA has now confirmed in a statement to GamesIndustry that it's switching gears. The publisher claims that the main reason behind the move is difficulties attracting development talent to Gothenburg, where Ghost Games is based. The studio is set to go back its original name of EA Gothenburg and will switch focus to engineering support, leaving 30 jobs at risk.
"Ghost Games have helped to bring some great Need for Speed experiences to our players," EA's said in its statement. "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 based in Guildford, in the south of England. The town is home to a surprising number of big-name developers and video game companies, including Ubisoft, Hello Games, and Supermassive. Given that the Xbox Series X and PS5 are set to launch before the end of this year, we can assume that the next Need For Speed will be appearing on next-gen consoles - this isn't confirmed though.
While EA's statement doesn't acknowledge it, Need For Speed hasn't exactly flourished in the last few years. 2017's Payback was heavily criticised for its monetisation features while Heat - admittedly a step in the right direction - didn't really do much to win back longtime fans either. Hopefully Criterion can help steer the franchise back on the right course.
Featured Image Credit: EA
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