EA returns Need for Speed development to Criterion

After several years under the handling of Ghost Games, Need for Speed is being returned to Burnout studio Criterion Games.


For the last several years, Need for Speed games have been missing something. Ghost Games wasn’t making bad racing titles, but for more than a few reasons they weren’t quite up to snuff of the legacy that came before them. Perhaps Electronic Arts noticed this too, because it seems EA is looking to return the series back to when it was arguably at its peak. The publisher has returned development duties of the Need for Speed series to Burnout and Need for Speed star developers Criterion Games.

EA announced its intention to return development of Need for Speed games to Criterion on February 12, 2020, as reported by gamesindustry.biz. According to gamesindustry, EA will be turning Ghost Games into EA Gothenburg in Sweden, which will act as an engineering hub to aid in development across EA’s collection of studios and projects. One of the issues cited by EA was that it failed to attract development talent to Gothenburg. Criterion has always been in Guildford, England, which is a notable hub of UK game development playing host to the likes of Media Molecule, Supermassive Games, Hello Games, and previously popular studios Lionhead Studios and Bullfrog Productions.

Need for Speed: Heat was arguably the best of the Ghost Games bunch, but it still wasn't without flaws that have persisted in the current crop of Need for Speed games.
Need for Speed: Heat was arguably the best of the Ghost Games bunch, but it still wasn't without flaws that have persisted in the current crop of Need for Speed games.

It’s not all good news. Gamesindustry reported that while many of the Ghost Games staff will either move on EA Gothenburg or be transferred to Criterion and other EA studios, there are around 30 positions at risk for layoffs in the move. In such a major twist regarding a studio that has poured work into the last four Need for Speed titles, it seems clear that more than a few staff are on the chopping block for this coming shift of development and studios.

We can’t deny that we weren’t entirely fond of the previous games here at Shacknews. Both the 2015 Need for Speed and Need for Speed: Payback garnered middling reviews from us. Many agree that Need for Speed: Heat was a better offering, though it still had its share of problems. Though we can’t deny we’re more than a little hopeful to see Criterion to put the series back in fourth gear and do great things with it again, we also wish those at Ghost Games the best. Here's hoping the road goes on for many if not all of the staff.

Are you excited to see Need for Speed return to Criterion? What do you hope to see out of the franchise under the returning development studio? Let us know in the Shacknews Chatty comment section below.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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