It seems Criterion Games’ new Need for Speed game is pulling into the pitstop for the time being. Back in early 2020, EA announced that Criterion would be taking back the Need for Speed series they created after several mediocre entries from Ghost Games, but less than a year later, plans have changed. According to a new Polygon interview, Criterion is now helping DICE with the next Battlefield and Need for Speed is on hold. While Criterion once again being relegated to support-team status may seem like a demotion, EA’s chief studios officer Laura Miele insists Criterion was included in the decision…
There’s no way we would have made a decision like this without including [Criterion] and discussing this with them first, and the impact that they could have on [Battlefield]. 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.
Miele also says Need for Speed has not been canceled or taken away from Criterion, although we’ll see if that holds true. EA reassigning Criterion to Battlefield perhaps isn’t that surprising – the publisher’s recent financial results have been rather flat and they’re betting big on a new Battlefield in 2021. With COVID-19 slowing down the development process, it’s clearly all hands on deck to get the next Battlefield out the door, with DICE, DICE LA, and now Criterion working on the game. EA’s recent purchase of Codemasters also means the company will have a steady flow of new racing content coming, and thus a new Need for Speed isn’t necessarily the priority it once was.
There seems to be a lot of behind-the-scenes shuffling going on at EA right now. In addition to putting Criterion on Battlefield, EA recently canceled Anthem NEXT and Motive’s long-in-development “Gaia” project. Expect even more consolidation if the company’s finances remain flat.
Battlefield 6 (or whatever it ends up being named) is slated to arrive sometime during EA’s next fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2022. A holiday 2021 release is likely.