Need for Speed in Criterion's garage

While talking Project Natal, EA COO reveals Burnout developer is now under the hood of the publisher's street-racing series; EA CEO says shop crafting "revolutionary" new entry in franchise--which may delay the next Burnout.

During the same investors conference presentation where he revealed Battlefield 3, Electronic Arts chief operating offering John Pleasants dropped another bombshell. Specifically, he blew the lid off one of EA's historically most successful franchises, Need for Speed, which was trifurcated into three subseries in January: Need for Speed: Shift (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, and PC), Need for Speed: Nitro (Wii, DS), and the massively multiplayer online game Need for Speed: World Online (PC).

A true Shift to Criterion?

Initially, Pleasants discussed the three-way split, which will see independent shop Slightly Mad Studios develop Shift, EA Montreal work on Nitro, and EA Shanghai and the downsized EA Black Box craft Need for Speed World Online. "We've put a huge effort into reengineering the whole franchise," explained the executive. "Different teams very much reengineered how we're making this product; lots of good work went into that, and the product quality is totally going to show it."

Then, Pleasants let slip a major literal shift for the franchise. "We've got staggered teams now, so we're not in the 12-month cycle grind, which is really the biggest thing we had to break. We've taken the Burnout team and combined it into the Need for Speed franchise. Now we have that in our favor because Burnout is from probably one of the more online-centric and high-quality developers that we have, Criterion." (Emphasis added.)

Almost simultaneously to Pleasants' speech going up via webcast, gaming blog Kotaku posted highlights from an interview it did with EA CEO John Riccitiello during last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo. In it, the executive confirmed Criterion Games head Alex Ward is overseeing development of a new, unnamed Need for Speed game--and that the project has apparently taken precedence over the next Burnout title.

"I don't think you can fold Burnout into Need for Speed because a lot of people like Burnout," Riccitiello said. "[But] we don't have a plan right now for a separate major launch on Burnout because the team doing it is working on a revolutionary take on Need for Speed." (Emphasis added.)

Other than to repeatedly say that Need for Speed and Burnout would remain distinct series, Riccitiello didn't elaborate much. Pleasants, though, expounded on EA's determination to make the former series a top seller once again. "Look, Need for Speed is one of the great franchises," he said. "I believe it's a top-10 seller in game-industry history. It's a backbone brand for EA, and it's one that has sold to 10 million units, now selling about 5 million units as the quality has eroded. So what's new in Need for Speed is a deep commitment to getting that title and that franchise back to its glory days."

Pleasants also touched on the Project Natal-optimized version of Criterion's last game, Burnout Paradise, which was shown off both at Microsoft's E3 Press Conference and on last night's episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Pleasants said that EA had known about the project "for some time…we didn't learn about it at E3. We've known about it for months. I think you saw that Burnout was one of the products that was tested there, so we've had access to that software long enough to take a project like Burnout and make it Natal-ized."

"If I were in Microsoft's shoes, I would think of Natal like a new console," he continued. "If it is deployed correctly and we as third parties can leverage it correctly, then there's a lot of innovation that will feel innovative like another round of a console [would]. For us, that's positive because, yes, we have to do new dev for another controller, but we don't have to do new dev for a new platform. It's a different level of investment. [But] that doesn't take any of the onus off the innovation. We still have to figure out the hit-making sauce for Natal versus a non-Natal 360. They're probably going to be different."

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Discussion

123 comments
shani_boy101
shani_boy101

I really wish they'd just kill NFS and just go all Burnout. It's the much better franchise, NFS has gone the path of the ill-fated Crash Bandicoot, just let it die.

Xanzar12
Xanzar12

They need to add all the damage of burnout with the cops and cars with mods to need for speed to make it go back to being a giant in the racing genre

hotrider12
hotrider12

is that the real reason EA took COPS out??? a lawsuit??? and all they had to do is make cops look intelligent?? wow just wow!!!

10171981
10171981

What I believe is the MAIN problem with the Need For Speed series is that I LOVED this series back when it was ALL about high speed police chases and a little about the actual racing. Thats what made in unique compared to other games. But then they started getting lawsuits so they played it safe and started making street racing games WITHOUT the police. This made it REALLY GAY I mean they started with a GREAT concept and just pussed out because of liability. The ONLY thing they have to do is to return to the POLICE CHASES that made this game so darn interesting in the FIRST PLACE... we do not NEED another racing sim, they are a dime a dozen!!!! We NEED our NEED FOR SPEED back. Bring back the POLICE and make them intellegent!!! Thats all you NEED for the Need For Speed!!!!

hotrider12
hotrider12

criterion need to take NFS back to ol school hotpursuit 2 style or high stakes style of racing . no burnout crap

Spalacios12
Spalacios12

imagine a need for speed burnout where ONE wrong turn will destroy your car!! then having internet capabilities it will turn out to be a worldwide hit!

nickts01
nickts01

They need to take NFS back to its Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted roots. They do not need more racing simulators, they need to do what made them a top-selling franchise in the first place.

The_InJimid8tor
The_InJimid8tor

For Jelly76 The ex-Simbin crew are working on NFS:Shift due out this Fall Not this newer project "NFS:Unknown title" due out more than likely in the Fall of 2010. But Not this year! EA Split up All there teams to work on separate NFS projects. This way they can take more time on making the game and not rushing it out the door within a twelve month period. Besides that,I have watched videos of gameplay but Never played a Burnout/Forza/GT4 or PGR games as I only play PC format games even though Burnout Paradise is now out for PC. Haven't decided to pick it up. I didn't think they had real licenced cars in it which is what I prefer. But should be interesting to see what they do to the series. Hopefully not to arcadey like Trackmania. Now if it was more like Test Drive Unlimited and improved they will have quite the following! I wouldn't say no-one likes the NFS series anymore. Just people have there own tastes of what they like in a NFS game. Some like Most Wanted,Some liked Pro Street, I liked Hot Pursuit 2 and Underground 2. Everyone has there own view and opinion of them. That's why Game makers make so many to try to please the majority. But you can't please everybody!

harmeet95
harmeet95

Forza 3 is gonna be better obviously

pizzamuncher
pizzamuncher

I really liked need for speed most wanted and undercover. Burnout is a great series too. It would have made more sense to have both games to just stay put since they're both awesome.

tsyunami
tsyunami

I rather have them work on the next burnout, then on a NFS game...but if it changes NFS for the better I can wait...keep doing what you do best, Criterion(emphasis added)

snake289
snake289

@ jelly76 Yeah they are I think this is another NFS game Criterion are helping to make.

jelly76
jelly76

Uh? I thought the ex-simbin guys where on this? Or have I missed something? o_O

Mini-15
Mini-15

Twisted Metal, when is it gonna be announced

snake289
snake289

Criterion just make Burnout 6 or Paradise 2 or whatever xD

masterds64
masterds64

...the first 2 burnout's were awsome..but the rest ended up like mario party...it's got wheels, it looks good, but the engine won't start, and rolls down the hill backwards...into oblivion! Especially that pathetic port of legends on ds-graphics-good-gameplay-S@#$ house! ...I only sold the first because it was really short and beat it already-should have been in the arcades I reckon than the console world...

earthnuggets
earthnuggets

Why does everyone flip out about Burnout Paradise? I thought it was honestly the worst entry in the series. It added nothing new or fun to the franchise at all. The open world was boring and just made races more frustrating. There have been way better open-world racing games, like the consistently ignored Midnight Club: Los Angeles.

Cheesehead9099
Cheesehead9099

GO BURNOUT YAHHHHHH WOO BURNOUT PARADISE! its good that criterion is making the new nfs it might be decent now but the new burnout delayed? NNOOOOOOOOO! Stupid EA stop delaying the good games from the good series(burnout) to make the (possibly crap) games from the (now crap) series aka NFS. Why are they still trying to ressurect NFS.... no one likes it anymore! first 3 nfs were sick, then it was an epic fail. THEY SHOULD JUST LET CRITERION CONTINUE WITH BURNOUT!! ALL HAIL THE BURNOUT GODS!! plus wont all the games be a bit more rushed now since theres so many of em? i didint fully understand if any1 can clarify itd be nice

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I absolutely hated burnout and could careless about that franchise whats so ever but to see that the same studio is going to be handling need for speed is just a pity indeed. I guess undercover will be the last game I will ever buy in the series even if the game was shovelware...

fat3l3ss
fat3l3ss

i agree 100% with DeadMan...lol

DeadManRollin
DeadManRollin

So they are on the way of screwing both NFS and Burnout now...lol

DHackman
DHackman

I remember when developer teams were very small and waiting for a game for 2 to 3 years was tough but was well rewarded in every aspect now the turn around is quicker and the effect is watered down as is the games themselves. A real shame, i feel this company and many more games company's are selling out, watering down the product's with shorter development and more emphasis on advertising games with far too many sequels just look at the film industry.

Microwin
Microwin

it's funny that people talk about how much they hate NFS so much and that they never going to buy an NFS game again, and yet they end up playing the next release anyways. lol

beekayjay
beekayjay

There's no longer any focus within this franchise.....Shift, Nitro, Online, Criterion's version, AND Burnout??? Too many competing titles coming from the same developer....poor strategy.

sweeker
sweeker

Navigoto sez: New Need for Speed New Battlefield Now what?! I sez: Black 2 =P

kd_kash
kd_kash

ok everyone nows mostwanted is better, and they to go back to the need for speed hot pursuit style.

UnknownPerson55
UnknownPerson55

if nfs is such a backbone series to ea, then why have the last few games been so terrible? nfs underground (first one) was the last one that was worth buying imo

W3En
W3En

I'd have to agree with dbpvivi, Need for Speed is dead. It's true if they were to go back to their older PC based ones and re-invent them for new consoles they would have some success but every time around EA changes the game up completely, It went from street racing to Pro circuits to being a cop undercover, Its a game with an identity crisis that needs resolved.

hotrider12
hotrider12

NFS is not dead they need to go back to its roots and resurrect NFS with new porsche unleashed 2, high stakes 2, hotpursuit 3....those 3 games will put NFS back on top. with up-dated "SHIFT" style graphic's ..... SHIFT,NITRO will not do it.

dbpvivi
dbpvivi

I hate EA so much. Need For Speed is dead, they know it. Burnout was a clear winner last round so now they are trying to bring some life back into it by whoring itself onto whatever it can find. I would rather have the people that work on Burnout, work on just Burnout. And the people that do NFS just do their thing. It's better for us gamers if they go head to head rather than hash things together. Eventually it will just become one game.

Megamanx266
Megamanx266

Remeber... Criterion is working on a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TITLE from the NFS ones we know about. Stop saying to they're working on Shift, Nitro, or Wold Online.

MagicOneUp
MagicOneUp

anything to make the Need' franchise good again is a welcome. i can't remember a good Need' anymore...

kkee
kkee

So instead of letting Criterion continue to work on Burnout Paradise, one of the best games this gen, or make Burnout 6, EA make them try and revive a franchise that is getting worse every year.

Sechu
Sechu

It seems that being Criterion behind the new NFS is the reason it looks and plays so good as far as the latter can be seen from the videos. It is a pity the new Burnout will be delayed, though.

ZhaneEndrick
ZhaneEndrick

I think this could be good news. Several have said that the first 3 NFS games were the best, and I agree with that. I used to absolutely love this series, but the last one I thought was any good at all was Hot Pursuit 2. Criterion is likely the one developer that can finally make a good NFS game.

speedfreak48t5p
speedfreak48t5p

Criterion is a awesome developer and will breathe new life into the series. The last 2 NFS games, prostreet and undercover, kinda sucked. Every game from Criterion rocks, and downloadable content too! Burnout Paradise rocked and I am confident they can make a great NFS game. Carbon and Most Wanted were the last great NFS games. Go back in that direction EA!

thief_ac
thief_ac

One of the best move EA have done in the last time!

Anthony414
Anthony414

I think NFS III on PC was the best I've played. So many modded cars to download and the cop pursuit mode was awsome. I'd download the modded cars with a 56k modem back in the day lol. Hot Pursuit FTW!

crystos
crystos

i agree hot pursuit wa sthe tightest. Need for speed without cops is wack. I enjoyed the tuner cars but i also want a good selection of high end stuff.

snarple_basic
snarple_basic

There trying waaaaaay too hard with Need for Speed. I think they just need a break.

ZedX-14Pilot
ZedX-14Pilot

Unless EA goes back to the formula that made it such a great series on the PS1, the NFS games will continue to suck. The first three NFS games are still the best. The track design and car selection SMOKES any of the recent iterations of the games. Some things just shouldn't ever change, and EA killed the series by changing the formula. NFS 3 Hot Pursuit is BY FAR the best game in the series. Could you imagine what a facelift/refinement of that game would be like TODAY!

ali-009
ali-009

EA games should stop making burnout and need for speed,and head for something that combine them together to create something creative,they should use the high speed of burnout and insane jumps mixed with some costmizing and hip-hop music (clean),with a thrilling story,that could make things better,but if you want to know who is better i think burnout is better,because i want to drive the car and not changing the visuals and the way that the car looks,i think burnout is a racing game at it's best and never gets old,but need for speed is boring with bad sense of speed no thrilling moments,and now all people miss the old need for speed most wanted,but anyway i like burnout,and it is the best racing franchise ever created.

NavIGOtoR25
NavIGOtoR25

New Battlefield, New BurnOut, what else?

shinchy
shinchy

Criterion for the Graphics, Updates, Depth and Presentation. NFS for the Gameplay, Cars, Style and Music. Do that to build another Underground; and you could create the best street racing game ever made.

Mikethechimp
Mikethechimp

Terrible move. Burnout doesn't have to wait for this garbage.

q64silver
q64silver

some suckers here who think that NFS series start with NFS Underground 2 or so... :)) dudes, just check NFS games history. it starts around 1995 ;)

anwell
anwell

Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unlimitedbigdad
Unlimitedbigdad

This new NFS looks very good. Criterion is very powerful

flynow
flynow

Combine Burnout 2 and Need for Speed Most Wanted for winning formula. Thank you, I'm looking forward to 2010.