Future of Need for Speed unclear as Criterion seconded to Battlefield, again

Thomas Harrison-Lord
The move comes as the studio moves from the EA Sports umbrella to EA Entertainment.
Porsche Taycan, Need for Speed Unbound modified

The “majority” of the recent Need for Speed Unbound development team has been moved away from the Need for Speed franchise and onto Battlefield, according to Vince Zampella, Group General Manager at Electronic Arts.

Sound familiar?

That’s because the same move was used in 2021, delaying the then-nascent Unbound while the majority of the team worked on what would become Battlefield 2042.

“There was a small team of people that were still experimenting and working on some of the more radical features to try and polish them,” said Unbound’s Creative Director Kieran Crimmins to Traxion.GG in 2022 of the previous pause in production.

“We’ve got very close relationships with our friends at DICE, we’ve been working with them for years.

“It needed a lot of help and we were happy to give it. I wouldn’t say that Need for Speed moved on tremendously in that year because it was a small group of people.

“It wasn’t our main development focus at that time.”

Need for Speed Unbound Lamborghini Countach 2021 EA Play

Earlier this year, EA split its teams into two clear divisions, EA Entertainment and EA Sports, with racing games falling under the latter, including the acquired Codemasters teams.

In May of last year, the Codemasters Cheshire team – who had worked on OnRush and DIRT 5, but not the Formula 1, GRID or World Rally Championship games – was subsumed into Criterion with a view of working on future Need for Speed titled after Unbound.

“As we’ve said before, we’re all-in on Battlefield,” reads Zampella’s statement.

“Today, Criterion is added to our world-class Battlefield studios dedicated to ushering in a new era for the franchise. The majority of the team will be working alongside DICE, Ripple Effect, and Ridgeline which are led by Byron Beede, GM of Battlefield.”

“Work will also continue on what’s next for Need for Speed. Many of you might be familiar with my history in games, having worked with extremely talented teams on Apex Legends, Titanfall, and Star Wars Jedi here at Electronic Arts. But you might not know I have a passion for cars, which also makes Criterion a perfect match for me to explore another genre in gaming that I love.”

Need for Speed Unbound Games Pass EA Play Vol3

While logical, it’s unclear at present if that means that the former Codemasters team members will be the team to continue production on the driving franchise and how much resource has been available.

Earlier this year, five senior team members from the ‘old guard’ of Criterion – known for guiding the development of prior Burnout and Need for Speed titles – left EA to form a new independent ‘AAA’ studio, Fuse Games.

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