The lights are on
It's a time of flux for many game developers – and I'm not just talking about the transition to the next-gen systems. Between the viability of small-team development and the continued appetite for triple-A titles, there are different paths to bringing a creative vision to life. With the news that Criterion Games' has streamlined down to 17 employees to focus on its upcoming project, the Burnout and Need for Speed studio – with the blessing of parent company Electronic Arts – is being smart about how it manages its future.
While Criterion helps Ghost Games with Need for Speed: Rivals by shifting over many of its employees over to the Swedish developer, it also gets to focus on its next non-racing project. Managing the workflow of your employees isn't exciting video game talk, but doing it successfully is the kind of thing that keeps a studio alive. It's also worth noting that Electronic Arts has smartly green-lit this move and has the structural capacity to let it happen between the two subsidiaries. Perhaps this fluid workforce situation not only helps people keep their jobs, but also allows the Need for Speed franchise to retain developers with experience with the series and could enable the shifting of resources when things ramp up back at Criterion.
There isn't necessarily a correlation between the current size of Criterion and that of its upcoming project, which is what I find really interesting about this situation. Criterion's Alex Ward has said via his Twitter account that the team has consistently used small groups to innovate within its titles, no matter how big the project itself or feature. I don't know how other studios do it, but it's refreshing to hear how Criterion handles their business and that the ideas of a few people can germinate into something big. In hindsight, I wonder if the developer's small-group mentality has been responsible for what I perceive to be one of its best qualities: The ability to produce focused games with an infectious core idea that is clearly conveyed to the player.
This is an exciting time for Criterion. Beyond the possibly enjoyment that its next project may bring, the structural flexibility that this new-look Criterion brings could pay dividends in the future as well. I think it will keep the team invigorated, which in turn even helps the Ghost-led Need for Speed franchise. Gamers are always in search of a good game, no matter its size or its development. It's good to know that Criterion thinks this too.
Note: Alex Ward has told me that Criterion has fully handed off the NFS franchise to Ghost and is not overseeing it these days. The text has been changed to reflect this info.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
True, a very interesting time they have ahead...
I wonder what type of game their non-racing project will be.
I want them to make a new burnout game, they talked about what they wanted with to do next gen, having cars split in half. The nfs games are ok, but not amazing, they need to go back to what they are good at, crashes.
intresting , i'd think i'd agree on it being smart considering, specially if no/next to no ppl lost their job ( cause transfered) by doing this.
I hope whatever they are working on next isn't another racing game. I thought Black was a really cool and unique shooter back in the day.
If they get to do what they want, it can be nothing but a good thing for them.
Well, Tu Ki Jane Sada Rabb Jane..
This criterion move makes me think they are not developing for current gen anymore. who said that said that current gen is going to live many years more??. We are one step close to next gen, and things are wrapping up about next gen. Current gen is going to die much faster than I thought.
Being a small studio doesn't mean their games will be of less quality or less innovative, on the contrary, I think that makes it up if the development for the plattforms is relatively easy, like is said about next gen. However, that also could make game development longer.
I guess we will just have to wait and see how it plays out.
i want something that has a TRUE crash mode in it. and i dont think im the only one.
but that could be because im an old fart who loved BurnOut3 Takedown