EA Confirms Need for Speed Franchise to be Handed Back to Criterion
Ghost Games will become EA Gothenburg and will become an engineering hub.
EA has announced that it will be returning the Need for Speed franchise back to Criterion. The move will find staff transferred, but 30 roles “remain at risk.”
Ghost Games, the development studio based in Gothenburg, Sweden will be returning to its roots and being rebranded back to EA Gothenburg which is what it was originally back in 2011 until it rebranded to Ghost Games in 2012. The rebrand back to EA Gothenburg is still pending Swedish Union approval.
With the Need for Speed franchise heading back to Criterion, EA Gothenburg plans to refocus itself as an engineering hub that will support development across EA’s portfolio. EA explained to GamesIndustry.biz, “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.”
The move does mean that EA hopes to transfer the staff from Ghost Games’ creative team to Criterion Games in Guildford, England as well as other places within the wider organization. Apparently 30 roles remain at risk according to EA, “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 believes that it has struggled to attract the right talent to Ghost Games’ studio in Gothenburg to work on the Need for Speed franchise. “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.”
Ghost Games’ latest title was Need for Speed: Heat which last year saw the player count the highest it had been for the series this generation.
Criterion is based in one of the biggest game development hubs in the UK. In 2013, Criterion downsized, seeing employees move to Ghost Games, as GamesIndustry.biz explains, a UK Ghost Games team currently exists within Criterion. While Criterion is well known for the Burnout titles, as well as Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010) and Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) the studio has been focused on supporting EA DICE for the last 5 years with Star Wars: Battlefront (VR Mission), Star Wars: Battlefront II, and Battlefield V.
EA seems positive about handing the Need for Speed franchise back to Criterion and says, “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”