News Article

Burnout And Need For Speed Studio Criterion Downsizes To Just 15 People

Posted by Damien McFerran

Working on new IP outside of the racing genre

UK studio Criterion — which created the Burnout series of games and has had a key role in recent Need for Speed titles — has downsized to just 15 staff. The smaller company will now focus on titles away from the racing genre in which it found so much fame.

Criterion staff are assisting EA's Ghost studio in Sweden with the next NFS title, Need for Speed: Rivals. Ghost UK has been formed as a result of this partnership, with the smaller Criterion moving away from the newly-formed studio. The company will continue to be owned by EA.

Criterion creative director Alex Ward responded to fan reaction on Twitter, assuring worried parties that the move is actually a very positive one:

He has also responded to claims that EA was somehow to blame for the move, and commented that the opposite is true — being part of EA has enabled him and his studio to pull away and make the games they really want to make.

Criterion hasn't made a true Burnout game since Burnout Paradise in 2008; 2011's downloadable title Burnout Crash was a spin-off. It made Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Need for Speed: Most Wanted in 2010 and 2012 respectively, both of which gained very positive reviews.

[via eurogamer.net, twitter.com]

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User Comments (21)

Nintenjoe64

#1

Nintenjoe64 said:

I'm guessing they're making a remake of a classic game EA owns the IP for. Hope it's Syndicate/Syndicate Wars and they can banish the memory of that shocking FPS reboot.

ECMIM

#2

ECMIM said:

Anyone that believes this [that this is a net positive for Criterion] needs their head examined.

MAB

#3

MAB said:

Way too many driving games these days and they're all the same... Like Mario but with cars ;)

ajcismo

#4

ajcismo said:

Downsizing is never positive for the people who lost their jobs. Its a money saving move by EA, and we'll probably see Criterion absorbed completely within a year.

Peach64

#5

Peach64 said:

Nobody has lost their jobs. Most Criterion staff have moved to Ghost UK to work on Need For Speed. Criterion are moving on with a new project which is in the pre-planning stages, and you don't need 140 people at that stage of game development. There would literally be nothing for most of them to do.

I believe him when he says this was their choice. Alex Ward has made it clear for a while he's bored of making racing games. This allows him to something else and also allows EA to leave Need for Speed in the hands of the people that do it best.

Dogpigfish

#6

Dogpigfish said:

They didn't buy Criterion for their talent, although that would make a lot of sense. This was a move to eliminate a competitor. I'm glad they've lasted this long and have given us NFSNW U. I like this group and will continue to buy their games if they stick around.

KnightRider666

#7

KnightRider666 said:

As long as they make quality NFS games, who cares how many people they have? From what we've just read, this could be for the better.

boywundr

#8

boywundr said:

@Peach64 - Basically what you said. They don't need bored bodies sitting around while they transition. It's good for the company, trust me.

I worked for a company a few years ago that did the same thing. They had become larger (about 70 people plus contractors) and transitioned to a new "product". In that transition, they slimmed down to less than 15 people and now, 3 years later, I'm working for them again in a contract role but higher up the food chain and earlier in the process. It's not bad, especially if any of those guys made a good impression... Criterion won't forget them and will look to fit them in when it's time.

I see this as a good move towards change.

Captain_Gonru

#9

Captain_Gonru said:

@Nintenjoe64 I've got my fingers crossed for something from the Genesis/Megadrive days. I would love to see a new/remastered General Chaos or something from the Strike series.

WaxxyOne

#10

WaxxyOne said:

What? A development studio owned by EA canning employees to improve their bottom line? Say it isn't so!

This is why everyone needs to boycott EA.

I don't believe that this is the studio's decision for a second. You don't lay off a bunch of your staff and feel good about it, but you've still got to spin it as a positive change anyway.

Einherjar

#11

Einherjar said:

Anotherone bites the dust...
A smaller group of people MAY be beneficial, but it depends on the level of games you want to make. 15 people is about the right size for an indie studio that, like he sais, wants to focus entirely on fresh, new gameplay ideas. With smaller groups, you have less "back and forth" between different ideas and opinions.
But criterion isnt an indie studio, they made one of the most popular racing game franchise (Burnout). And if they want to improve beyond their recent feets (Paradise and Most Wanted) thay certainly need all the manpower they can get.
What they needed is a restructuring, a more focused working plan. Such a downscale in people really isnt the optimal choice if you ask me.
But who am i to judge, and we are talking about EA here, so who didnt see that comming ?

WiiLovePeace

#12

WiiLovePeace said:

That's a bummer, definitely won't see a new Burnout from them in a very long time then :'( Oh well, back to NFS: MW U I go!

thanos316

#14

thanos316 said:

its definitely sad to anyone lose their job. today you have to be very econimical. you gotta make things work with less. so sometimes its hard when these decisions come down. but best of luck to everyone that was let go and hope they find something new fast.

GiftedGimp

#15

GiftedGimp said:

Of course Alex Ward going to reassure fans.. he won't want to lose his job. But this is a prime example of how EA sonner or later screw everything up they touch.
Criterion, Excel in making great race games, so EA stop them making race games, Downsize the studio to reduce cost... Like that is a great idea.
Good thing EA don't want to support WiiU, there wasn't a decent NFS game for years untill Criterian took over, so now that franchise can sit alongside most of EA's other 'Once was Great' Franchises... all of which won't really be missed on WiiU.

banacheck

#17

banacheck said:

@Peach64
I'm going with Peach on this, as Alex Ward has stated meny times he wants to work on other types of games a year or so back if not longer. And why are people saying the other devs have lost there jobs? thay haven't at all they are part of Ghost UK which is based in Sweden.

DeadAntelopesGo

#18

DeadAntelopesGo said:

They downsized to get their next game going smoothly. When it goes into full force development they are hiring people back.

Jaz007

#19

Jaz007 said:

Nobody got laided of people. Part of the studio got reassigned to another studio to keep working on NFS. The people who wanted to work on something new were kept in the now smaller Criterion studio, and will probably get more people farther along in development. They just have no use for more people until they get the basic ideas for their new game going.

ThumperUK

#20

ThumperUK said:

Criterion's Need for Speed for WiiU is a wonderful game and a must-have for any WiiU owner. It is a shame that the incompetent EA cannot see what a great developer they are and seem intent on destroying their company. How about they just sell Criterion to Nintendo? (a Burnout WiiU exclusive would be amazing!)

sadsack777

#21

sadsack777 said:

iam now 43 years old ive seen a lot of , games developers make brill games when there are not a lot in the group back in the 80s 90s there were only 5 or 10 in a group to make the most playable games ever we all need that back

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