Electronic Arts aren't done shuffling around their studios and projects for 2021 just yet. EA have now announced that they're delaying the next Need For Speed game so that Criterion can assist Dice with the next Battlefield game. The NFS series isn't being shut down and the reassignment is only a temporary one, EA say, partly to relieve pressure created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The next Battlefield game hasn't had a proper title announced yet and we don't know its setting either. It had seemed possible we'd see some word on it last summer during EA's video showcase event but the little glimpse we got of it was disappointing.
Despite the lack of information, EA says it's coming along well. "[Battlefield] is shaping up great, the team has been working incredibly hard, they pushed hard last year, and yes, we have been working from home," EA chief studios officer Laura Miele tells Polygon. "And it’s hard; it’s hard to make games from home, and the [EA Dice] team is fatigued a bit."
EA have decided to call in Criterion for the assist, a decision which Miele assures was made with the studio's input. They're likely better known for Burnout and now Need For Speed, but EA say their experience made them the right people to get involved.
"They’ve worked on [Star Wars] Battlefront, they’ve worked on Battlefields, and they have a really tight, close collaborative partnership with Dice. I’m really confident that this is going to be a pretty positive win for them."
While Criterion are off on the battlefield, EA will still have racing games in the works thanks to their recent acquisition of Codemasters. Need For Speed isn't being called off or handed over to the Codies, EA say. Rather, having the Dirt and F1 developers continue doing their racing game thing leaves room for Criterion to go get stuck in on Battlefield and return later.
In EA's own announcement, Miele says that Codemasters will have several launches in the next year. Criterion will now be expected to launch their next Need For Speed game in EA's fiscal year 2023.
"We’ve recently seen the first version of the reveal trailer for Battlefield and it’s shaping up to be a truly amazing first look at this groundbreaking game," Miele says. "I think fans are going to love it!"
Over the past week we've gotten news of EA doing quite a bit of adjusting development priorities. BioWare announced it would cancel continued work on Anthem in order to focus on upcoming Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. EA have also reportedly cancelled project Gaia, an unannounced open-world action game that Motive Studios had been working on for years.