The Need for Speed series has had a rocky road lately, and that's no secret. Need for Speed Heat was an improvement, but it wasn't quite the comeback the franchise sorely needed. Not since the days of Criterion's take on Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted has the franchise been truly great. Developer Ghost Games, which has been making NFS games for the whole PlayStation 4 generation, has tried to reinvent the game several times, and never really succeeded. All that said, it's very interesting to learn that EA is handing its storied racing IP back to Criterion.
As reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the UK racing game specialist famed for the Burnout series will regain control of Need for Speed, while Gothenburg-based Ghost Games will become a support and engineering team. "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 says.
The publisher is looking to move some of the creative staff at the studio to other teams, but it seems there could be up to 30 people at risk of redundancy. However, EA plans to find room for them elsewhere: "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."
Criterion has been supporting the development of other EA games such as Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield V. The studio has been quietly ticking along for the entire generation, but it seems like it now has an opportunity to make something wholly its own again. "With a strong history and passion for racing games and vision for what we can create, the Criterion team is going to take Need for Speed into the next-generation," EA says. A Criterion-made Need for Speed on PS5? Colour us interested.
Of course, we hope anyone from Ghost Games who does find themselves out of work lands on their feet. What do you make of this news? Drift into the comments below.