Leading publisher Electronic Arts has acquired the rights to the next instalment in Criterion's highly regarded Burnout series of racing games, and plans to make it into one of its key titles for 2004.
EA takes over publishing duties on the series from Acclaim, for whom the first two Burnout games were among the most successful European titles that the company has had in some time.
Little is known about the third game in the series, but it is expected to launch on all three major console platforms simultaneously (unlike Burnout 2, whose launch on Xbox and GameCube came long after the PS2 release) and to feature online support - on PS2 at least, with Xbox online support presumably depending on the status of EA's negotiations with Microsoft at that point.
Although no official announcement regarding the signing has been forthcoming as yet, it has been confirmed by sources at both Criterion and EA, and it's known that EA UK sees Burnout 3 as one of its key titles for the current year, alongside high profile titles such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The Burnout series has been particularly popular in Europe, and has gained a strong fanbase thanks to its arcade driving mechanisms and spectacular crashes - with the second game even introducing a mode where the objective was to create the most expensive and impressive motorway pile-up.