Good news for fans of heavy artillery, less good news for lovers of sleek rides. Criterion Games, the British-based creator of the Burnout racing series and recent Need for Speed titles, will work primarily on EA and DICE's Battlefield shooters in future. The studio's first objective: improving the contemporary-set Battlefield 2042, which our Ed Thorn described as "an FPS package that has its fun moments, but one that's blighted by performance issues" back in 2021.
As reported by Eurogamer, Criterion will shift to being part of EA Entertainment rather than EA Sports, and there are apparently no layoffs resulting from this act of franchise musical chairs.
"The majority of the team will be working alongside DICE, Ripple Effect, and Ridgeline that are led by Byron Beede, GM of Battlefield," Battlefield and Apex franchise head Vince Zampella explained in a statement. "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."
A small "core group" of Criterion devs will continue to work on Need for Speed, which saw an outing only last November in the shape of Need for Speed: Unbound - unreviewed by RPS, because we all despise and fear the open road here, but widely deemed to be a solid piece of automotive malarkey, though sadly far from a best-seller. An EA Sports spokesperson told Eurogamer that "racing continues to be a critical part of the EA Sports portfolio as we grow sports fandom around the world."
Zampella is personally looking forward to working on NFS. "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," he said. "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."
This isn't the first time Criterion have worked on Battlefield - the studio bolted together a battle royale mode for Battlefield V (summarised by Matt Cox as "the all-too familiar fantasy of being one insignificant drop in a sea of raging war-soup"), though the new mode was binned after a dismal fan reception. They're also the brains behind aspects of vehicular combat in Battlefield 2042. If you've ever backed a truck into a tornado, only to somehow land intact a few hundred metres away, you possibly have Criterion to thank.
Several prominent members of Criterion - including general manager Matt Webster and head of production Pete Lake - jumped ship following Unbound's release to form Fuse Games, which is working on *deep breath* "genre-leading, player-first AAA interactive entertainment that fuses uncompromising attention on game feel with blockbuster spectacle and player centric innovations in social gameplay, self-expression and creativity." Could it be a racing game? Our sister site GamesIndustry.biz has a March 2023 interview with more.