In June, soon-to-be-ex-Electronic Arts COO John Pleasants revealed that Criterion Games was taking over the Need for Speed series. The news came five months after the publisher revealed it was splitting its once-top-selling racing series into three subfranchises for the PC, the Wii and DS, and the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Pleasants' comments came during an investors' presentation, in which he also said the series was no longer in the "12-month-cycle grind." However, EA is now indicating that the franchise will continue to have annual installments. During yesterday's post-layoff announcement and earnings report conference call, EA Games president Frank Gibeau said that the Burnout developer is prepping the next Need for Speed for a 2010 release.
"Next year's Need for Speed has been under development now for some time at our award-winning Criterion Studio," Gibeau told analysts. He also boasted that the latest game in the series, Need for Speed Shift, had shipped a combined 2.5 million units for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, and PC.
Gibeau's comments came as EA announced that it was shifting away from its strategy of taking risks on unproven IP. In the same call, CEO John Riccitiello said the company would now "provide greater focus on titles with higher [profit] margin opportunities." As a result, EA has canceled "over a dozen" games and cut its development pipeline by half in two years. The canceled games were not indentified.
One of the marquee properties EA is investing in is the Medal of Honor franchise. "In the months ahead you will hear more about our plans to revitalize core IP, including the Medal of Honor franchise," promised the executive. Gibeau previously discussed the shooter series' reboot in a 2008 interview with GameSpot, not quite a year after the release of the last game in the series, the tepidly received Medal of Honor: Airborne.
Ironically, news of the Medal of Honor reboot came on the eve of the launch of the latest game from Infinity Ward, a studio started in 2002 by disaffected Medal of Honor developers who quit EA. That game is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which publisher Activision is touting as being on track to be the "biggest entertainment launch ever."