Need for Speed's constant shift between developers could be about to come to an end, as Criterion have declared they will be taking over the franchise for the forseeable future.
Over the years, Need for Speed was predominately developed by EA Black Box, but tighter deadlines caused by a demand for annual releases led to a noticable slide in quality, with Pro Street and Undercover standing out as particular lowlights.
Slightly Mad Studios patched things up with their 'soft simulation' approach with Need for Speed Shift, but it was Criterion's take on Need for Speed Hot Pursuit that got the series back on the road, before EA Black Box briefly got back behind the wheel and released Need for Speed: The Run to lukewarm reception last year. It therefore wouldn't surprise us if The Run's poor performanced swayed the decision to hand over the keys to Criterion.
In an interview with GameInformer, Criterion's Vice President Alex Ward commented: "Our stamp's going to be in everything you see in Need for Speed and Burnout going forward in the future. "It's not going to be spread anymore across different companies. Different studios have had a crack at it – it's definitely a Criterion gig now."
It's unclear whether or not they will be taking on full developer duties or simply watching over the series, but with Criterion now taking charge we can at least be assured there will be no lapses in quality in future titles.
The mention of Burnout also leaves room for encouragement that Criterion's beloved series isn't gathering rust in a Guildford scrapyard. Considering that this year's upcoming Need for Speed Most Wanted is, in essense, a spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise, what we will eventually see from the next Burnout is anyone's guess.
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