Criterion Streamlines Operations As Most Employees Join Ghost Games

by Mike Futter on Sep 16, 2013 at 03:09 AM

Late last week it was revealed that Criterion, the minds behind the Burnout series, Black, and most recently, two well-received Need for Speed entries, has streamlined its operations. The studio now employs 17 individuals, with the remaining staff now with Ghost Games, the team behind the upcoming Need for Speed: Rivals.

Tweets from Criterion creative director Alex Ward last week reaffirm Criterion's health and the reason for the reduction. This follows our report in April (also based of Ward's tweets) that Criterion's next title will not be a racing game.

Ward concludes his explanation on Twitter with kind words for EA. "We're fortunate to be part of a big organisation that curates and invests in new intellectual properties," he writes. "It really isn't the evil empire."

[Source: @AlexanderJWard via Gamasutra]


Our Take
There are three takeaways from this story. The first is that paring down the staff at Criterion allows the studio to develop its next project with a small group before bringing on new staff. Keeping things small during the early phases will keep costs manageable. 

The second is that Need for Speed: Rivals is in good hands, with many of the developers from Criterion playing a role in its creation. It will likely still have the feel of Most Wanted and Hot Pursuit.

Finally, EA is giving Criterion a chance to do something brand new. For all of the heat the publisher takes, it could have forced Criterion to work on Rivals, pigeonholing them in a way that Ward clearly didn't want. Instead, it gave him and his core team the latitude to try something new. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with.