Alex Ward's Burnout team confirmed as new Need For Speed dev

Alex Ward's Burnout team confirmed as new Need For Speed dev
Michael French

By Michael French

June 10th 2009 at 9:54PM

EA moves development to UK-based Criterion for 'revolutionary' approach, says Riccitiello

It's been whispered abou by some UK developers for a while, but EA CEO Riccitiello has confirmed it - Criterion Games is working on the next Need For Speed.

According to EA CEO John Riccitiello, the Burnout developer's take on the project - headed by that game's creator, Alex Ward - is 'revolutionary'.

"Alex is one of the people in the industry I would analogize to the great filmmakers, etc.," Riccitiello told Kotaku. "He is a true creative visionary. We had a great fight about what the next Need For Speed would be like. Of course, he gets to win because it's his call. It's not that I'm without an opinion on it."

He also addressed a previous rumour that said the Criterion project was really an attempt to mash-up the two EA racing franchises: "I don't think you can fold Burnout into Need for Speed, because a lot of people like Burnout. We don't have a plan right now for a separate major launch on Burnout, because the team doing it is working on a revolutionary take on Need for Speed. I don't know, if Paramount, in addition to owning Star Trek owned Star Wars, which isn't the way it is, I don't think you'd merge them."

Confirmation of the new project is further proof of EA putting its faith back in UK developers.

It had already signed Slighty Mad games to develop Need For Speed Shift, the simulation-focused next instalment in the series due later this year.

The firm had previously split the development on the franchise, turning it into three separate versions - one for a more casual audience on Wii, the sim versions for consoles and PC, and a new free-to-play Need For Speed in development at the series' usual home at EA Black Box in Canada. Riccitiello had previously admitted that the yearly treadmill of production on the game was 'killing' that development team.

There is currently no shortage of racing games being made in the UK aside from Silightly Mad and Criterion's games. Other UK-made racers include Split/Second by Disney-owned Black Rock is in development in Brighton; Liverpool-based Bizarre Creations is working on Blur for Activision; Codemasters is making DIRT 2, F1 and presumably GRID 2 (the latter for 2010); while SCEE Liverpool is responsible for WipEout. Eutechnyx, Exient and other UK teams also specialise in racing games.