Founders of Burnout studio quit EA [UPDATE]

Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry no longer working at the EA studio they founded in 2000; Ward says EA did not force the pair out.

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[UPDATE] Following the publication of this story, Alex Ward said on Twitter that his reason for leaving was not the result of pressure from EA.

"Completely wrong. Totally our own decision to leave," he said. "We wanted to own our own company. Simple really."

The original story is below.

Criterion Games founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have left the Burnout and Need for Speed studio, an Electronic Arts representative confirmed with Polygon today.

"Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have decided to leave EA," a spokesperson said. "We appreciate their many contributions through the years and wish them well in their future endeavors."

Ward and Sperry leaving Criterion Games does not affect work being done on the studio's unannounced PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game, believed to be a new franchise, the EA rep said. Going forward, EA veteran Matt Webster will lead development on this new game. The studio's staff has reportedly been reduced to 16, after many employees shifted to the Ghost Games to work on Need for Speed: Rivals.

The studio's new project is reportedly not a racing game, as Ward said in April that, "After over a decade of making racing games it's time to make something new."

The pair founded Criterion Games in 2000, which would release the hit racing game Burnout in 2001. The studio also worked on 2010's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and 2012's Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

As for what's next for Ward and Sperry, Ward said on Twitter today that he will start a new game studio with Sperry. No other details are available.

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