Electronic Arts Need for Speed franchise has been on a bit of a hiatus these past couple of years, as the publisher looks to retool and restore the racing series back to its glory years. The last few releases were handled by Ghost Games, a Swedish studio originally established as the lead developer on the Need for Speed franchise starting in 2013. While the games did find a fanbase, all three titles were met with mixed and average reviews, ultimately not living up to EA’s lofty expectations.
In fact, Need for Speed Heat was the final game with Ghost Games as the lead developer. Following the game’s launch in 2019, Ghost Games was downsized, renamed back to EA Gothenburg, and made into an engineering support studio with a focus on the Frostbite Engine. The Need for Speed franchise was handed over to Criterion Games, a studio with a long line of racing experience thanks to the Burnout franchise and more recent work on Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted.
However, a new opportunity seemingly appeared in 2021 when EA purchased Codemasters, creators of iconic racing franchises like Dirt, F1, Grid, and Colin McRae Rally. As expected, Electronic Arts has quickly shuffled the newly acquired Codemasters onto the Need for Speed franchise. In a join announcement on Twitter, Codemasters confirmed that its Cheshire studio is currently working on the next Need for Speed alongside Criterion.
In fact, Codemasters Cheshire and Criterion are merging to become one Criterion studio with two location hubs to help facilitate development. The announcement continues by saying that the integration builds off of the close working partnership the two studios already share and that the unification and combined experience will help build a better racing experience for the Need for Speed fanbase. Responses to the news seem to be mixed with those hopeful the franchise can return to its former glory, with others not too convinced.
Unfortunately, no other details were provided, but it sounds like work on the next Need for Speed is in the early stages as these two studios come together. For now, fans continue to rely on rumors and leaks, a few of which have recently surfaced. While still unconfirmed, recent rumors suggest that the next Need for Speed will be next-gen only and feature anime style elements. While that may be a surprising twist for the franchise, the visuals will remain photorealistic, it will also incorporate anime-style highlights and flare, such as cartoon flames to accentuate the action on screen.
Need for Speed is in development.