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Need for Speed developer Criterion to focus on Battlefield

While small "core group" within studio plots NFS future.

Criterion Games' logo on a black background.
Image credit: Criterion / EA

Criterion, the British studio behind recent Need for Speed titles and the classic Burnout series, will now focus the majority of its efforts on EA's Battlefield shooter franchise.

A smaller "core group" within Criterion will continue on with Need for Speed, meanwhile.

Criterion has of course worked on Battlefield before, and contributed bits to DICE's Battlefield V and Battlefield 2042 (it also helped out on Star Wars Battlefront 2). The talented team will now turn its efforts back to improving 2042, and to the future of the Battlefield franchise overall.

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The studio's most recent game, Need for Speed Unbound, dropped in December last year. Eurogamer liked it, but it sadly did not reach a large audience.

"Here's a familiar tale," ex-Eurogamer petrolhead Martin Robinson wrote in our Need for Speed Unbound review. "A new Need for Speed comes out to zero fanfare and turns out to be pretty decent; decent enough, even, to feel like a return to form for EA's long-running series after it had experienced a fallow spell."

Five senior, long-serving Criterion members left the studio around the same time, including general manager Matt Webster who departed after 23 years, to found new developer Fuse Games.

Today's announcement of a new focus for the majority of Criterion means the studio will shift to being part of EA Entertainment rather than EA Sports (the two halves of EA became distinct entities last year, though both still report in to company boss Andrew Wilson).

Eurogamer understands there will be no layoffs attached to this change.

"I'm thrilled to have a studio with such pedigree join the studios I oversee," Battlefield and Apex boss Vince Zampella said in a statement. "As we've said before, we're all-in on Battlefield. Today, Criterion is added to our world-class Battlefield studios dedicated to ushering in a new era for the franchise.

"The majority of the team will be working alongside DICE, Ripple Effect, and Ridgeline that are led by Byron Beede, GM of Battlefield. Criterion's experience with Battlefield, our technology and building engaging experiences will have an immediate positive impact as we continue to work on Battlefield 2042, and as we continue pre-production on a connected Battlefield Universe. There is no better studio to join us on this journey and I couldn't be more excited.

"Work will also continue on what's next for Need for Speed. Many of you might be familiar with my history in games, having worked with extremely talented teams on Apex Legends, Titanfall, and Star Wars Jedi here at Electronic Arts. But you might not know I have a passion for cars, which also makes Criterion a perfect match for me to explore another genre in gaming that I love. I'm really looking forward to working with a core group as we shape what's next for the franchise."

While it feels like we'll be waiting a while for the next Need for Speed, EA Sports has its own racing games in the pipeline.

"Racing continues to be a critical part of the EA Sports portfolio as we grow sports fandom around the world," an EA Sports spokesperson told Eurogamer. "Our focus is on creating authentic, best-in-class motorsports experiences through EA Sports F1 and our upcoming EA Sports WRC title."

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