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Founders leave Burnout and NFS: Hot Pursuit studio Criterion

UPDATE: Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry to form new studio.

UPDATE: Alex Ward has revealed that he and Fiona Sperry left Criterion to "start afresh and form a new games company". He'll also apparently write a column for trade magazine Develop.

ORIGINAL STORY: Criterion Games, the talented racing game studio behind Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Burnout Paradise, has lost the two people who founded it: Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry.

"The news breaks," tweeted Ward moments ago. "Along with Fiona Sperry I have left Criterion Games. Welcome to the REAL #tothefuture."

"So I guess its now official!" added Fiona Sperry, in response to a story that broke on Polygon. "The future starts here..."

EA told Polygon that the pair "decided to leave EA". "We appreciate their many contributions through the years and wish them well in their future endeavours," a spokesperson said.

EA bought Criterion Games in 2004.

Their reasons for leaving aren't yet clear, but it's thought to be tied to the studio losing control of the Need for Speed licence to new EA studio Ghost Games, which made Need for Speed: Rivals and sucked up lots of Criterion's staff with it.

Meanwhile, at Criterion: "The incredibly creative and talented team at Criterion are hard at work on a new project for next-gen consoles," the EA spokesperson said, "as new IP continues to be a major priority across EA. Matt Webster is leading development of the new game and the Criterion studio moving forward. Matt has been part of Criterion for years and has an exciting vision for this new game."

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