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.