EA not burnt out on Burnout

SVP Patrick Soderlund affirms publisher's commitment to Criterion's high-octane racing franchise, says Black Box will handle next year's Need for Speed.

With its combination of extreme stunts, big wipeouts, and fast cars, Criterion Games' Burnout franchise is one of EA's most well-regarded franchises. However, the future of the series seemed to be called into question last June, when EA said that Criterion had been tasked with the next installment in a different racing franchise, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, which is due out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and PC next week.

EA apparently has post-Paradise plans for Burnout.

However, it would appear as if Criterion won't be permanently taking over the Need for Speed franchise. Speaking to Eurogamer, EA senior VP of first-person shooter and racing games Patrick Soderlund indicated that it was "safe to assume" that the next installment in the Need for Speed franchise would be developed by EA Black Box.

"What developers do what, we haven't made official," Soderlund said of the franchise. "But the whole idea for [Need for Speed] as a brand is to have different developers work on different things, absolutely."

Prior to being tasked with the publisher's Skate franchise, EA Black Box was most closely tied to Need for Speed, having developed the original Hot Pursuit 2, Underground, Underground 2, Most Wanted, Carbon, ProStreet, and Undercover. Slightly Mad Studios has also contributed to the franchise, handling 2009's Need for Speed: Shift.

With Criterion off next year's installment in the Need for Speed franchise, Soderlund was cagey on whether the studio would simply begin development on the series' 2012 entry or return with a new Burnout.

"What happens to Criterion in the future, we'll see," he said. "Obviously they're a brilliant studio we're going to put against something that makes sense for EA and them. We're not ready to talk about exactly what that is at this point."

"The way we look at it is Burnout is an IP EA owns," he continued. "I hope to see more Burnout games in the future. But it's about prioritising what we want to do. At this point, we haven't made a decision to whether Burnout does this or that, but it's not dead for sure, no."

For more on Criterion's latest effort, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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