Criterion Games' co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have left the studio, having already been downsized to a team of just 16.
EA confirmed their departures to Polygon: "Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have decided to leave EA," a spokesperson said. "We appreciate their many contributions through the years and wish them well in their future endeavours."
In a Tweeted response to VG247, the duo also stated that they have plans to form a new games company to work on future projects.
— Alex Ward (@AlexanderJWard) January 3, 2014
Criterion's Matt Webster will now be leading Criterion's top secret project currently in development. While the studio is of course best known for Burnout and recent iterations of Need for Speed, it's already known that the unannounced title, referred to as 'project zero,' will not be a racing game.
It was initially assumed that internal pressures from EA caused Ward and Sperry to leave. Ward has since confirmed in a Tweet that this is not the case: they simply want to own their own company and enjoy the creative freedom this will entail.
It's sad to see one of the racing genre's best loved British developers continue to dwindle. The only conselation is that the talents of the remaining staff at Criterion that were migrated to EA Ghost are being utilised to work on Need for Speed for the forseeable future. I still miss Burnout, though.