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Need for Speed Series Returns to Criterion, Ghost Games Demoted to Support Studio

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Apr 7, 2006
EA’s Need for Speed series has been on cruise control for a while now. Pinpointing where things took a wrong turn isn’t hard – the last title entirely developed by Criterion Games, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, has an 84 on Metacritic, while the three most recent titles from Ghost Games (Need for Speed, Need for Speed Payback, and Need for Speed Heat) have all been mired in the 60s or low 70s. I reviewed both Payback and Heat and can attest both are pretty middle-of-the-road experiences.

Well, apparently Ghost Games is out of chances, because the Need for Speed series is being returned to Criterion.

With a strong history and passion for racing games and vision for what we can create, the Criterion team is going to take Need for Speed into the next-generation. […] Criterion can provide the consistent leadership that we need to continue creating and delivering new Need for Speed experiences for a long time to come. […] We're looking forward to adding to their talented team and building a great future for Need for Speed.

The engineering expertise in our Gothenburg team, some of whom are architects of the Frostbite engine, is vital to a number of our ongoing projects, and they would remain in that location. Outside of the engineers and those that we plan to transfer to other positions, there would be 30 additional staff in Gothenburg, and we would hope to place as many of them as possible into other roles in the company.

I feel for the folks at Ghost Games, but, ultimately, this is almost certainly a positive development for the Need for Speed franchise. Criterion has been badly underutilized in recent years, and I’m eager to see what they can do at the wheel of their own games again.


This is good news...….Criterion deserves to be back on NFS...They need to reboot it and I know they will prioritize 60fps for NFS again.....My advice, go back to NFS Porche and High Stakes style racing.....Great tracks, great locales...…No pop-up city racing please....


Jan 15, 2018
Most Wanted was pretty great. Last open world racer I legitimately had fun with. It was essentially the closest we’ve had to a burnout game. Although, I fucking hate Burnout Paradise. Burnout 3 is the GOAT however.

I’m glad to hear this. Always loved Criterion. But I think Alex Ward is gone from the studio.
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