Electronic Arts

Last fall, Need for Speed finally returned after a four-year hiatus with Need for Speed Unbound, a stylized take on the open-world street racing formula that marked U.K.-based developer Criterion Games’ first new NFS back in the saddle in a decade. Though far from perfect, Unbound seemed to promise a new beginning for the series. Unfortunately, that beginning has all but evaporated into thin air, as publisher Electronic Arts has announced that the Criterion team’s focus will be shifting to first-person shooter Battlefield, putting a future NFS installment on indefinite hiatus.

The news came in an EA press release courtesy of Vince Zampella, manager of several of the company’s biggest properties, including the two that today’s announcement pertains to. Criterion has been added to EA’s “world-class Battlefield studios dedicated to ushering in a new era of the franchise” effective immediately, in Zampella’s words. However, the message ends with a note that “work will also continue on what’s next for Need for Speed.”

A “core group” will be tasked with shaping the franchise’s next act, according to Zampella. Considering the bulk of Criterion’s resources will be squarely directed at EA’s next big multiplayer military shooter, there’s currently no telling when Unbound’s sequel could arrive.

It’d be putting things mildly to describe this news as disappointing to NFS fans. A situation depressingly similar to this one unfolded midway through Unbound’s development when Criterion was pulled off that project shortly after inheriting NFS duties from Ghost Games to help get Battlefield 2042 across the line. We’re of course particularly concerned with racing games here at The Drive, but it was hard for fans of gaming in any capacity to ignore how troubled 2042’s launch was back in 2021, even with Criterion aiding in the lift. Regardless of the outcome, Unbound’s release ended up being delayed to late 2022 as a result.

Now, NFS is back to square one—at best. At least the last time this happened, the series’ next entry was well underway and had been teased several times. Now, the future of one of the oldest franchises in racing games is a completely blank slate, and the bulk of resources within the studio in charge of it will go elsewhere. Certainly not the follow-up Unbound deserved, but the one it seems to be getting nevertheless.

Got a tip? Email us at tips@thedrive.com

The post The Next Need for Speed Game Probably Isn’t Coming for a Very Long Time appeared first on The Drive.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *