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Criterion Games staff reduced to 17 as 60-65 people move over to Ghost Games

Saturday, 14th September 2013 14:19 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Criterion Games has had its staff numbers reduced to 17 people total working at the Guildford-based studio, as the majority of the studio has now moved over to Ghost Games, according to various tweets which surfaced overnight.

According to Criterion creative director Alex Ward he has “a small team now,” and that between 60 and 65 of his staff are now working with Ghost Games on Need for Speed: Rivals.

Ward said the remaining staff members will be working on projects other than racing games.

“We still exist. We chose not to continue making NFS games,” Ward tweeted. “I wouldn’t worry at all. NFS is in safe hands. And it’s all about making great games. It’s all positive.

“We’re still Criterion and that is what matters. We are backed by a huge and successful wider company, Electronic Arts. We’re in fine form actually.”

Ward went on to say Criterion is currently working in a project he was not at liberty to discuss at the moment.

Ghost Games took over the Need for Speed franchise earlier this year.

The franchise’s development had previously been shared by Black Box and Criterion, with Ghost Games studio head Marcus Nilsson stating that the franchise bouncing between studios and producing different game types wasn’t “consistent”.

Need for Speed: Rivals will release on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 November 19, and will be a next-gen launch title.

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33 Comments

  1. YoungZer0

    “We are backed by a huge and successful wider company, Electronic Arts.”

    Yeah, well, apparently you’re not.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Biscuitpants

    wtf…

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Dimaco

    Darn… make a true Burnout comeback (next gen?) and you’ll earn your fame back!

    #3 1 year ago
  4. The_Red

    So in other words, new NFS is still a Criterion game. Just under a new moniker.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. AngryConsumer

    RIP Criterion & Burnout.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. II-WAR-STEINER-II

    Morons… Go and lick EA’s balls

    Shame on you

    “We are backed by a huge and successful wider company, Electronic Arts. We’re in fine form actually.”

    I don’t think so…

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Keivz

    @4 – Exactly! Stay out of my NFS Criterion!

    #7 1 year ago
  8. SplatteredHouse

    @5 Damn Burnout hybridisation/diluting of NFS was half of the problem!
    @7 Absolutely. All the bits of Criterion can go make its own game, put in all the Burnout they will!

    “The high customisation and personalisation from the Underground series and the original Most Wanted is what made me enjoy it more than most racers. Since then it’s just turned into ‘just another racer’, it lost it’s identity that helped make it popular in first place. I want that identity back. “ credit: http://www.videogamer.com/ps4/need_for_speed_rivals/news/need_for_speed_underground_3_if_it_can_sell_15m_copies_wed_make_that_game_says_ghost.html

    #8 1 year ago
  9. DSB

    Very sad how EA has managed to take the spark out of Bioware, Popcap and Criterion.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. SplatteredHouse

    @9 They surely managed to take the “spark” out of Bullfrog/Westwood, as well.
    As well as shutting down BIG (that one still annoys me – we haven’t seen the likes of that stuff since, and frustratingly, that shutdown took place shortly before the Wii/Casual boom, to where less simulation, more action-led sports could have easily helped boost the broadness of EA’s selection.)

    Instead, their F2P ambitions extend to little more than reusing whatever active brands they have, under a different moniker. :( Oh, and that Simpsons cow-clicker on mobiles, which my guess would be that that originated from a satellite studio.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. absolutezero

    It’s not like this is coming as a surprise, the studio will be closed soon. Just another team killed by EA.

    Theres a hell of alot of them now though. I mean Jesus Christ stop it please EA. Please stop.

    I want Pandemic back :(

    #11 1 year ago
  12. SplatteredHouse

    RIP, Mercenaries. :(

    #12 1 year ago
  13. GrimRita

    EA – tearing the heart out of gaming since 1985

    #13 1 year ago
  14. Fin

    Hm

    #14 1 year ago
  15. DSB

    Definitely with you on that. The BIG era was really one of the very best in EAs history. And The Saboteur wasn’t far off from being a really great game. I enjoyed it a lot, even in its unfinished state.

    The Pandemic thing was just the lowest of the low. First Ricitiello “supports them” for years and sells them to EA, then he heads up EA and kills them like it was nothing. I wouldn’t buy a carton of milk from that scumbag.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. fihar

    @10
    Oh God, BIG!
    I love NBA Street.

    The sad thing is, EA was actually the one who made Burnout/Criterion into what it is now.
    The first two Burnouts were fundamentally good, but the presentation was rather bland and it all changed with Takedown, hands down one of the most fun I’ve ever had from a game.
    Amazing soundtrack, slick presentation and an empowered sense of personality was the things that won me over and I suspect EA was quite instrumental in achieving that.

    Takedown and Paradise won them more acclaim than NFS could ever hope for and it’s a huge shame to see Criterion’s talent wasted on a franchise that obviously didn’t mesh well with their pedigree.
    It all went downhill from there and it’s sad to say that this news isn’t surprising in the slightest.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    Sounds like Ghost Games is essentially just going to be Criterion under a new name. That’s fine by me. Their Need for Speed games have been great, so that gives me plenty of faith in their future titles.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. SplatteredHouse

    Takedown was truly a beautiful game, @16. You’re speaking a great deal of truth.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. mistermogul

    Well done EA – another studio bought to its knees…

    Add it to the list of talented teams you have successfully sucked to non-existence.

    Bravo, you imbeciles…

    #19 1 year ago
  20. Ireland Michael

    Criterion has been making successful games for EA for almost 10 years, and most of its staff i/ (obviously intentionally) now part of a new studio dedicated to racing games. That is hardly a studio “brought to its knees”.

    If the quality is there, who cares if the name is slightly different?

    #20 1 year ago
  21. DSB

    What’s quality though? Hot Pursuit is really high on the list of the dumbest, most base racers I’ve ever played. There’s barely any gameplay there. It’s “Press button to drive” and “Turn left or right occasionally if you like – or don’t – it doesn’t really matter much”. It treats you like a retard who really just wants to see shit go by really fast, rather than someone who wants a rewarding ride.

    NFS was CoD before CoD was CoD.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. Ireland Michael

    @21 I love Burnout Paradise. It’s one of my favourite games of this gen, but that game was far more generous when it came to screwing up than Burnout Hot Pursuit ever was. I found plenty of the races in that game to be challenging after the few levels.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. DSB

    @22 Paradise was the death knell to Burnout for me. Admirable to try the open world thing and all, but the level design just didn’t even try. You had a lot of quantity with none of the sweet tracks that actually made the previous games great.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. mistermogul

    @20 – I agree with DSB, is their output really that quality compared to their earlier games like Burnout 2? (In my opinion their best game to date).

    Also I would argue it certainly seems the name “Criterion” has been brought to its knees, yes. A team of 17 from what was 100′s?

    It’s undeniable fact that Westwood and many other studios have met the fate of death from EA in the past and it looks like it is happening again that’s all…

    #24 1 year ago
  25. sg1974

    Another great UK dev reduced to a shadow of its former self by a US owner.

    Anyone remember Rare? (Yes yes I know, it’s called sarcasm.)

    #25 1 year ago
  26. fihar

    @23
    Paradise was a great open-world racer. The complete freedom to pick your own route was great, especially on the longer races. If you’re one to explore, there’s a plethora of alternative path available to utilize in the game.

    Compared to the exciting locales that was offered in previous Burnouts, Paradise City might not seem much but it’s still quite a city.

    Have to agree with you on Hot Pursuit 2010 though, that game was boring. Lots of great cars and the Autolog was great but that’s it.

    @24
    Burnout 2 was bland. The gameplay was there but there’s barely any effort made on the presentation. Takedown was arguably superior compared to that.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. TheWulf

    I loved Paradise, my favourite Burnout game by far. Perhaps the only one I played for more than 20 minutes or so. Mostly because it almost felt like a platformer game, one in which your player avatar was a car rather than a hedgehog or a chubby plumber. It worked for me, and I dug it. Plus, there was always this bizarre sensation that the world existed in some kind of simulation revolving around sentient car-beasts, as there were no humans or drivers anywhere. That was genuinely surreal.

    I don’t know. I don’t often go in for reality-based racing games, but I played a nontrivial amount of Paradise.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. Cobra951

    @27: Same here. Paradise was one of my favorite racers ever. I could spend hours going like a bat out of hell around the open world. Track racers feel confining after that experience.

    #28 1 year ago
  29. TheWulf

    @28

    That was probably it. Other than in kart racers, I guess I’ve never done so well with tracks. I keep wanting to pull off and explore, but there are invisible walls everywhere. So that was probably a big draw, for me.

    #29 1 year ago
  30. Cort

    B:P is tied with Uncharted 2 as game of the generation for me. I got 150 hours and my first Platinum out of that game. Loved every minute. The car handling was perfect – just the right amount of arcade fun with a small sprinkling of real world physics. And being allowed to pick your own routes and be rewarded for good planning and choices was great. And never has a game been better supported by the dev and publisher with both free and paid DLC.

    There’s a reason EA have done this and I suspect I won’t like it. If it is still going to be exactly the same studio then why create a new name when you have one of the most recognised and respected brands in gaming?

    Be careful EA, remember what you said earlier this year when voted the biggest corporate assholes (or whatever it was)….

    #30 1 year ago
  31. tenthousandgothsonacid

    BP was great because it was 60fps. Haven’t enjoyed their 30 fps NFS games.

    #31 1 year ago
  32. DSB

    @26 I respect that. I just wasn’t that impressed with it. Sometimes you’d go up, sometimes left, sometimes right, but it was never really “true” freedom, it was really just options. It didn’t blow me away.

    I forget whether it was Burnout 2 or Takedown, but I just remember that game having outstanding tracks. It was a real skill game, and I especially remember the time trials being designed so you pretty much had to be in turbo 90% of the time, and you really had to slice every corner just right. It was so tight, they pretty much nailed it.

    For me that whole experience was sorely missing from Paradise.

    I’m pretty sure it was Burnout 2?

    #32 1 year ago
  33. fihar

    @33
    You’re talking about Burning Laps, which was started on Takedown I believe.

    I actually had an argument about this a couple of months ago. Paradise isn’t just about the racing anymore. Somewhere along the way, it turns into more of a sandbox game, ergo the Freeburn challenge and that new area DLC, whose name I completely forgot.
    This was further emphasized in MW 2012, where doing Challenges turns out to be a lot more fun than the actual races and, God forbid, Speedtest.
    I mean, collectively jumping off a ship over and over again might be pointless, repetitive and a tad idiotic but it was also deliriously fun.
    Sure, the addition of Autolog means it is still about who’s fastest of them all but the focus has shifted a little bit.

    I still long for the day Criterion makes another traditional racer and build upon what Takedown managed to achieve (Sorry, I don’t count Revenge and HP 2010) but I also appreciate what Criterion tried to do (and succesfully achieved I might add) with Paradise and Most Wanted.

    We are the same people who wants triple-A games to not always stick to a formula remember?

    #33 1 year ago

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