The Need for Speed series is going on for a long time and I played the game most of my life, within the series, there are amazing highs alongside the lows. For me, the most excellent era for the games was when EA put Criterion on it, then famous for the Burnout series, which produced many standout games including Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit—a brilliant action racer, and arguably the best in the series.
However good the games were, Need for Speed has always moved units, although in recent years it really felt like they’ve just been spinning their wheels. The last game, 2019’s Need for Speed Heat, was fine but didn’t feel like anything special and, in a world where Playgrounds now raced through five Forza Horizons, just didn’t have that excitement factor. Clearly, publisher EA thinks something needs changing, too, because now it has moved the series from its last developer Ghost Games over to two of its internal studios that, for racing fans, can only be called a dream team: Codemasters and Criterion.
We can confirm Criterion Games and the development team at Codemasters Cheshire are officially coming together to create the future of @NeedforSpeed, forming one Criterion studio with two location hubs. [1/3]
— Codemasters (@Codemasters) May 12, 2022
“We can confirm Criterion Games and the development team at Codemasters Cheshire are officially coming together to create the future of Need for Speed,” reads the statement. Codies Cheshire is being folded in to form “one Criterion studio with two location hubs. This integration builds on the close partnership the two studios have developed over the past few months.
“Sharing common values and similar cultures, we strongly believe unifying the huge wealth of expertise across both teams will help us to deliver the best racing experiences we can for our players.”
Criterion really needs no introduction for fans of action racing, with Burnout Paradise still the best example of this kind of game ever made. It’s made many brilliant racing games over the years, even though recently it has seemed to be acting as more of a support studio for other big EA titles like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and a couple of Battlefields.
Codemasters Cheshire is a studio that comes out from the ashes of Evolution Studios, a specialist racing developer famous for the Motorstorm series, which was created by Codemasters after Sony rather unceremoniously closed Evolution in 2016. EA purchased it last year as part of its Codemasters acquisition, which cost $1.2 billion. The broader context is that Codemasters itself has become a specialist racing studio, with both the Grid and F1 series delivering consistently amazing games.