We're all probably guilty of placing bets on there being another new Need for Speed game this November as a next generation sequel to Need for Speed: Rivals.- I even pondered on the possibility of a Need for Speed Underground sequel in my 2014 racing games preview, if not in name then in spirit. All bets could about to be off however, as the Guildford-based developer EA Ghost UK is reportedly facing layoffs, which have put plans for the next Need For Speed on hold.
Eurogamer reports that sources from Guildford informed them that all artists in the UK branch of EA Ghost have been let go, with the remaining coders staying to help with other EA projects.
Polygon was also told that all contractors were let go, whereas full-timers were given the option to leave voluntarily with compensation or help work on an unannounced military shooter rumored to be a police-themed Battlefield title for EA's Visceral studio.
Unfortunately it all doesn't bode well for the increasingly diminishing former Criterion Studios team, as a large proportion of EA Ghost UK was made up of employees who transferred from Criterion to work on future installments of Need for Speed after the keys to the franchise were handed over to EA Ghost.
Criterion Studios was then left with just 17 people, who are currently working on a top secret project unrelated to racing games under the leadership of Matt Webster, after its co-founders left the studio to start their own company and work on other projects.
EA has since told Polygon that EA Ghost UK has "entered a consultation period for some positions in our Ghost Games U.K. studio."
It's sad to see such a talented team be pushed from pillar to post like this. Our heartfelt condolences go out to any affected employees.