Criterion Games co-founders depart from EA

Criterion Games co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have departed from the studio they once created, leaving Electronic Arts with aims of creating a whole new studio.


Criterion Games vice president and creative director Alex Ward and studio director Fiona Sperry have officially parted ways with the studio that they once co-founded. The two have left publisher Electronic Arts and will venture out to create an entirely new game studio.

"Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have decided to leave EA," an EA spokesperson told Polygon. "We appreciate their many contributions through the years and wish them well in their future endeavours."

Criterion, known primarily for the Burnout series, will be left in the hands of Need for Speed: Most Wanted executive producer Matt Webster, who will spearhead the studio's next game. This announcement comes a few months after Ward had stated that most of Criterion's staff had moved to NFS Rivals developer Ghost Games, leaving roughly 17 people at Criterion.

Ward stated his future goals on Twitter, which will not include the Burnout franchise, since EA owns the IP. While nothing is certain at the moment, Ward did previously express a desire to move towards something entirely new that doesn't involve a racing title.

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From The Chatty
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    January 3, 2014 2:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Criterion co-founders depart from EA.

    Criterion Games co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have departed from the studio they once created, leaving Electronic Arts with aims of creating a whole new studio.

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      January 3, 2014 2:02 PM

      Ozzie arn't you supposed to be off?

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      January 3, 2014 5:33 PM

      Paging marmite, we were just talking about them a couple of days ago. :(

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      January 3, 2014 5:55 PM

      Since EA owns the Burnout IP, why not just call the next driving game Burnout? Is there even any brand equity left in the Need For Speed brand anymore? Well, you know... beyond the inertial equity of average window shoppers saying, "Hey, another Need For Speed game!"

      The Wikipedia video game nerds have a taxonomy of the Need For Speed games into separate "eras" (Click the "Show" on the bottom list titled "Need For Speed" on ). It's an interesting commentary on how the production priority of EA's racing games changed over the years, and hit a wall after Need For Speed: The Run, which was Black Box's last racing game. The "Fourth era" consists of the 2012 Most Wanted and Rivals.

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        January 3, 2014 6:21 PM

        just call it outburn

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          January 3, 2014 6:26 PM

          2 Out 2 Burn

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          January 3, 2014 6:53 PM

          Hahah, they really should.

          I was going to talk a little about Shift, but I forgot about it in the original post. I would've liked to see a continuation on Shift, but I think that's a lost cause, both from the fact that the Shift developers are now running their own project (Project CARS, to be exact), and that the sim racing subgenre has drifted (har) away from where it was 10 years ago (...well, maybe aside from Gran Turismo, mostly). There's iRacing and Assetto Corsa now, and Forza 5 soured the critics and the enthusiast fans with the "free-to-play tactics in a retail game" approach. So in that respect, maybe it's a financially prudent decision on EA's part to stay out of that niche, and double down on Autolog and Burnout-esque mechanics.

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        January 3, 2014 9:55 PM

        You can't have a Burnout game with licensed cars. It just wouldn't be the same.

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        January 4, 2014 7:56 AM

        Over Drivin'

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        January 4, 2014 10:24 AM

        I don't get why you think Burnout has greater brand value than Need for Speed. NFS is an older franchise with a lot more outings. There's even a movie for it coming this year...

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          January 4, 2014 10:44 AM

          I'd say Burnout has had better games in the last 10 years than NFS. Not hard to see why people would prefer one brand over the other.

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            January 4, 2014 12:06 PM

            Yeah; Need For Speed has lost the essence of what it used to be. If it's not a sim racer, and it can't get story-driven arcade racing right, and all it can excel at is open-world with Autolog, why even call it "Need For Speed" anymore if it's essentially Burnout with licensed cars?

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      January 3, 2014 9:54 PM

      One Burnout game for an entire generation.

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      January 4, 2014 6:35 AM

      it'd be funny if they went to Activision

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      January 4, 2014 3:37 PM

      Aint no thang. Give them two year and we'll have PeelOut Crash: I'm back bitches! on PS4 and XBO and it will be awesome!

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      January 5, 2014 7:37 AM

      EA wrecks everything they touch and have for years. Developers that sold their studios to EA bolt for the doors to start their own company again once they realize how big of a mistake it was to sell your soul to Satan, err, take millions to watch everything you've ever loved implode into mediocrity at best.

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        January 5, 2014 12:58 PM

        I think you mean that the upper echelon leaves (1 year after the non-compete expires) and then takes their new found money and restarts. I dont think your actual designer / developer gets their fair share out of this deal. These guys are HAPPY to have a solid job for 2 years straight. Thats... not cool.

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