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Criterion Separation: Founders Quit Burnout Dev Studio

This image is a metaphor for freedom.

Fiona Sperry and Alex Ward have left the company they founded, Criterion Games. The EA subsidiary has gone through some major changes recently, starting in September 2013 when the majority of its employees were moved over to a new studio called Ghost Games. That team is focused on the continued development of the Need for Speed series, while Criterion’s remaining 17 employees set about creating something new codenamed ‘Project Zero’.

Why should you care, I defensively imagine you asking.

There’s a lot of videogame conspiracies, but here’s the only one that’s real: somewhere out there there’s a group of games known as the Secret Best Games. If you have some free time, if you’re a bit bored of other games, and if can find them, maybe you can play them. The Criterion-developed Burnout Paradise is one of those games. It looks like just-another-racing game, but it’s secretly an under-appreciated gem. And it’s already quite appreciated. Jim sung its praises. John sang its praises. I’m singing its praises right now.

That’s why it’s interesting to me what Criterion might be working on next, and interesting that the company’s founders have moved on to do something on their own. Alex Ward confirmed via Twitter that he and Sperry were starting a new game company.

Back in October, Edge Online’s Neil Long did some digging into what Criterion’s project might be. The hints he found almost all come from Ward and Sperry, so the guesswork is equally relevant to what they might be working on next.

Although I hope not because that probably means it’s free-to-play. I’m crossing my fingers instead for some sort of crowdfunded space game set in an outerspace filled entirely with billboards you can rocket your spaceship directly through. The best kind of space game.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

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