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Criterion down to 15 employees as it pursues non-racing project

Burnout and Need for Speed studio Criterion is down to just 15 employees, but that's just the way its creative director likes it. Alex Ward clarified the studio's status in a series of tweets over the weekend, revealing that more than 60 employees split off earlier this year to continue work on the Need for Speed franchise as Criterion pursues a non-racing project.

Most of Criterion was working with Ghost Games on Need for Speed Rivals, Ward said. That portion of the studio has became Ghost UK, counterpart to its Gothenburg, Sweden headquarters. This explains how the new studio was able to take over the flagship racing series so quickly.

When Criterion began moving toward its new project, it made more sense to change up the studios rather than reintegrate teams just to keep the band together.

"We would rather work a small team all focused on gameplay rather than a huge team split by discipline," Ward said. "We didn't want to take on 50 people when they are not needed. Too many folks too soon dilutes solving gameplay problems."

The remaining 15 at Criterion will continue their work at a new location. The change was "completely our choice and by design," Ward said, defending EA's involvement with the wholly owned studio.

"We're fortunate to be part of a big organisation that curates and invests in new intellectual properties. It really isn't the evil empire."

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5 comments

  • Whit - September 16, 2013 7:48 p.m.

    Miss the Burnout Paradise multiplayer glory days--was a fun community in its day.
  • BladedFalcon - September 16, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    Poor criterion is now well on their way to pave the already long road littered with the carcass of developers that have been drained, miss-used and abused from greedy, corporate driven publishers. I seriously hope EA and Activision will pay sooner or later for this, and fucking fall into the ground to serve a reminder to the rest to not be so fucking greedy and inconsiderate.
  • JarkayColt - September 16, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    But Criterion said this isn't really to do with EA at all. Yeah, I point that out with a slither of sarcasm, seeings as EA saddled them with Need for Speed 'reboots', but still. In the great scheme of things Criterion were still doing what they did best. Also, what I gather from this is that Criterion must have came up with an idea for a new non-racing project whilst they were collaborating with Ghost on NFS and EA greenlit it. I bet they just told their staff in some manner that if they wanted to keep working on the NFS franchise at Ghost, go ahead, whilst a smaller portion of the team plugged away on the new game, gets the ball rolling and then takes on more staff as needed. This does make me wonder what will happen to Burnout though. Would anybody buy a Burnout game without Criterion's name on it? I probably wouldn't...
  • LordZarlon - September 16, 2013 4:47 p.m.

    I have an easy answer for that. EA will never publish another Burnout game. While Burnout was really cool it never sold any where near as much as Need For Speed. I'm curious though, could they be working on another FPS. After all they made Black last gen. While that wasn't everyone's cup of tea I thought it was pretty cool.
  • BladedFalcon - September 16, 2013 5:22 p.m.

    I also enjoyed black, though I should note that while criterion indeed developed the game, the lead designer on the game, Stuart black, has been long gone. Of course who knows how much was black responsible for what made the game good- or bad XD

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