Burnout and Need for Speed studio Criterion is down to just 15 employees, but that’s just the way its creative director likes it. Alex Ward clarified the studio’s status in a series of tweets over the weekend, revealing that more than 60 employees split off earlier this year to continue work on the Need for Speed franchise as Criterion pursues a non-racing project.
Most of Criterion was working with Ghost Games on Need for Speed Rivals, Ward said. That portion of the studio has became Ghost UK, counterpart to its Gothenburg, Sweden headquarters. This explains how the new studio was able to take over the flagship racing series so quickly.
When Criterion began moving toward its new project, it made more sense to change up the studios rather than reintegrate teams just to keep the band together.
“We would rather work a small team all focused on gameplay rather than a huge team split by discipline,” Ward said. “We didn’t want to take on 50 people when they are not needed. Too many folks too soon dilutes solving gameplay problems.”
The remaining 15 at Criterion will continue their work at a new location. The change was “completely our choice and by design,” Ward said, defending EA’s involvement with the wholly owned studio.
“We’re fortunate to be part of a big organisation that curates and invests in new intellectual properties. It really isn’t the evil empire.”