Rumours Of Tough Times At Ghost Games, NFS On Hold

By John Walker on February 3rd, 2014 at 8:00 am.

All does not seem well at EA’s new British studio, Ghost Games. According to Polygon, there have been lay-offs in the last week, and the next Need For Speed game has been put on hold. They say that contractors have been moved on, and full-timers are being given choices over compensatory leave, or shifting over to Visceral’s currently project, thought to be the next Battlefield.

Need For Speed has recently seen a big turnaround, with Burnout developers Criterion having taken over the series for the last few years. Then surprisingly duties moved to Ghost Games at some point last year, and a good deal of the Criterion team moved over to continue working on the franchise. Meanwhile, Criterion lost its vice president and studio director, Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry, earlier this month, and the team is now apparently down to about 20 people, working on an unannounced project.

So news that Ghost Games could be in trouble comes as surprising news. Whether Ghost’s Need For Speed: Rivals hasn’t performed well enough, or whether EA has decided to shift its focus, we do not know. The studio is split between Gothenburg and Guildford, and the UK branch sits within EA’s glass monolith within the town, shared by a number of other studios. So staff can fairly easily move from team to team in there.

It seems EA have been reluctant to comment so far, although after Polygon ran their story they said the company had,

“entered a consultation period for some positions in our Ghost Games U.K. studio.”

Presumably we’ll know more soon enough. We wish all the best to those affected.

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16 Comments »

  1. Evil Pancakes says:

    I’m not surprised really. You could clearly see the creativity behind Criterion when they were producing Burnout games. Then a steady decline into mediocrity when they were put in charge of the stale NfS franchise and the associated EA iron death grip.
    All I can hope for is that the talented staff leaves and starts a new studio to get back and make good racing games again. And meybe they learned their lesson to stay away from EA.

  2. Vargson says:

    They are working for EA. This is just history repeating itself.
    Also, after I have seen the state of NfS rivals, I am not the least bit surprised.

  3. TheIronSky says:

    I still haven’t forgiven EA for what they did to Origin Systems.

  4. Kollega says:

    We never did have a Wot I Think on the PC version of Rivals, have we? I read on TV Tropes that the PC port was atrocious, but that’s as much as I know about it. Wikipedia says that the game was well-recieved overall, so I don’t really see a reason why EA would close down the studio, other than the general pattern of buy-exploit-and-discard they treat all their studios with.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I think the PC version of NFS Rivals is pretty terrific. I’m on my second pass through the entire campaign. It’s not Burnout Paradise, but it’s pretty darn good. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had with a game in about a year, but then I’m kind of a simpleton.

      Maybe it’s just that I’m desperate for a decent arcade racer, or that driving cars around in an open video game world is just the thing that makes my brain light up. I’ll be really sad if the next open world arcade racer is delayed beyond next week.

    • ShadyGuy says:

      I’ve only seen Totalbiscuit’s first impressions of NFS Rivals and he basically ragged on it for being locked down to 30 FPS. He did manage to find a hack that brought it to 60 fps, but that had some weird effect that made the whole game run too fast in the same way it does when you play an old game on a much faster cpu than it was designed for. So yeah, for pc gamers who like a decent framerate rivals is not a good game. :)

    • Axess Denyd says:

      I can’t forgive a game that won’t let you pause. I don’t care if it’s “supposed to be” multiplayer or not, if you can’t pause to run to the bathroom without risking losing half an hour’s worth of game progress, your game is WRONG.

      Yes, this goes for Dark Souls too.

  5. Pich says:

    Another one bites the dust *snap*

    • Zorn says:

      And just yesterday I was replaying the original Dungeon Keeper at a friend’s. From a box of games
      with the likes of Need for Speed 2, Destruction Derby, Interstate 76 and Carmageddon.

  6. fredc says:

    NFS has been shitty since shortly after they released Porsche Unleashed. If they could just find their way back to PU territory there would once again be a reason to look forward to an NFS title. It’s perfect for EA anyway – you could fill a Ferrari Unleased or Porsche Unleashed 2015 with lots of shitty microtransactions and day 1 DLC and still not fuck up the game.

    • Cinek says:

      You underestimate their ability to fuck up games with microtransactions and “social gaming”.

      Take a Real Racing for example – First two parts were really decent and fun. Then they did nothing wrong per see – just introduced microtransactions and “social gaming” while leaving core of the game intact. And that alone made RR3 complete shit.

    • Wahngrok says:

      Porsche Unleashed is still the best NFS incarnation in my opinion as well. Besides the racing being fun the progression in the career mode was great and the damage model was really good. I wonder if I could get it to run under Windows 7… will try this evening I think.

      • emorium says:

        I played it about a month or two ago, it works pretty well with win7. There are some bugs with texture quality though but it’s nothing a trip on pcgamingwiki won’t fix.

  7. int says:

    EA’s only focused on the movie. Yeah! Speed, bitch!

    • Gargenville says:

      I have to say I caught a trailer in the theater and while it still looked monumentally stupid there were a few genuinely exciting snippets of racing action in there. Like one where a Veyron’s weaving through a pack of squad cars on a twisty canyon road and its dancing around on its suspension in a way I didn’t think it even could, and you can clearly tell it’s a real car being driven near the edge instead of CG bullshit or sped-up footage.

  8. Axess Denyd says:

    It would be nice if they would turn Need For Speed into more of a Gran Turismo/Forza type experience. Shift made a decent effort, but managed to mess it up.

    I would give many moneydollars for something that really fits between Grid and Project CARS / Asseto Corsa / Live For Speed, with a proper upgrade system, starting with street cars and containing an arcadey yet believable handling system.