UPDATE: Analyst Michael Pachter has told Eurogamer he now believes it is Dead Space developer Visceral making the shooter.
Visceral's only announced project post-Dead Space 3 is an untitled Star Wars game.
ORIGINAL STORY: Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter has claimed Criterion is working on a military shooter that may become a Battlefield spin-off.
In a note issued to press this afternoon, Pachter responded to a suggestion that Battlefield 5 would be delayed by developer DICE outside of EA's 2015 financial year (which ends 31st March 2015) because of Battlefield 4's troubled launch.
"We believe this speculation is unfounded," Pachter said.
"Although EA has as yet to announce a Battlefield extension for FY15, we believe Criterion Games is working on a military shooter that may become a brand extension for the Battlefield franchise in FY15."
Is Pachter right? "We spoke with management on Thursday afternoon, and although they have not yet announced a version of Battlefield for FY15, they confirmed that our understanding is spot on and that if a version of Battlefield were to be released in FY15, it would be developed by a studio other than DICE," he said.
We followed up with the analyst, who declined to comment further. EA declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer.
If true, the news would come as some surprise. In September the much-loved UK developer of the Burnout series and recent Need for Speed games downsized to just 15 people as it moved away from the racing game genre.
The Need for Speed series is now under the charge of Swedish studio Ghost Games, which worked on this year's entry, Need for Speed: Rivals, with the help of a large number of Criterion staff in Guildford, UK.
At the time Alex Ward, the creative director of the EA-owned developer, revealed on Twitter that Ghost UK was formed as a result of this partnership, with he and 15 Criterion staff working from a new location on something new.
I asked Ward about the claim on Twitter. He replied: "I'm not really in a position to comment I'm afraid."
@wyp100 I'm not really in a position to comment I'm afraid.— Alex Ward (@AlexanderJWard) December 6, 2013
Then, "Things are not always what they seem."
@wyp100 Things are not always what they seem.— Alex Ward (@AlexanderJWard) December 6, 2013
As for DICE, it has a lot on its plate. The huge developer, now with offices in Sweden and Los Angeles, is working on Battlefield 4 patches and DLC, Mirror's Edge 2 (which Pachter expects will launch during EA's FY16), and Star Wars Battlefront ("possibly" a FY17 release). And, of course, the inevitable Battlefield 5 - probably out late 2015.
Criterion does have experience in the shooter genre. In 2006 it released the well-received first-person shooter Black for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Could Criterion be working on Black 2?
One thing is clear: EA will want a military shooter for November 2014 to go up against rival publisher Activision's next Call of Duty game. With DICE insisting it work to a two-year development schedule for Battlefield, could another studio be set to fill the gap?