EA: Criterion won't make a game a year

They'd "burn out".

EA has promised it won't force Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit developer Criterion Games to make a game every year.

Instead, with its Need for Speed franchise EA is employing a two-pronged development strategy, alternating between games made by Guildford-based Criterion and Canadian studio Black Box.

Last November's superb entry in the series was Hot Pursuit. This year's entry is Need for Speed: The Run.

This gives Criterion the time to craft November 2012's entry in the racing series.

"The worst possible idea would be to make Criterion build a game every year," EA Games boss Frank Gibeau told Eurogamer at E3 last week. "That would limit their creativity and hurt quality."

Giving Need for Speed developers two years to create games ensures they have the time to make them shine, Gibeau said.

But EA's sharing of technology – The Run is built using DICE's Frostbite 2.0 engine and incorporates Mirror's Edge-style on-foot moments – makes it easier to build new ideas.

"We've designed an alternating strategy in driving for us to continue to build on the high quality we've established with Hot Pursuit and try new things," Gibeau explained.

"But at the same time we can share certain technologies and features. The new Need for Speed is on the Frostbite 2 technology, which allows us to do a lot of things we've never been able to do before. We're using the animation system from EA Sports.

"There's a lot of good sharing of technology and tools that allows us to constantly be on the cutting edge of technology but at the same time get the designers and the artists and the creators enough time to craft and polish a great experience.

"We've tried to get a team to do it every year. You burn them out. You can't do it at the level of quality the market wants now."

Need for Speed: The Run is the first non-Battlefield 3 game to use the Frostbite 2 engine, but EA plans to use it for many EA games in the years ahead.

"The vision is it's breakthrough technology," Gibeau continued. "It does things on a rendering level, on an animation level, on a sound level, that a lot of the middleware and other proprietary engines out there in the industry just can't do.

"It happens in the industry where Unreal will come out or the CryEngine will break through. Frostbite is ours. Frostbite will allow us to do things on next-generation technology we're excited about. The idea is we're going to be able to take that engine and put it into different categories. It's very flexible that way. It lends itself to a great action experience, to driving as well as to shooting."

One game, if EA decides to release it, that could use Frostbite 2 is Mirror's Edge 2, the sequel to the eye-catching parkour-inspired shooter that impressed critics but failed to set tills alight.

"Mirror's Edge was a great IP for us," Gibeau enthuses. "We're continuing to look at it. But the learning from it has been brought to bear.

"There's still hope, yes. We have not killed the IP. We're just trying to figure out the way to bring it back in the right way. You just have to give us the patience and time hopefully to do the right thing."

While we wait, Need for Speed: The Run's on-foot monents, which rekindle memories of DICE's action-packed escape sequences, will have to do.

"The Need for Speed product line reports into Patrick Soderlund," said Gibeau of the comparison. "His studio, DICE, built Mirror's Edge. So there's a lot of cross-learning and experiencing there happening for sure."

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About the author

Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

Deputy Editor

Wesley is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.

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