Criterion founders leave Burnout/Need for Speed studio to form new games company

Criterion co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have left the Burnout/Need for Speed studio to pursue careers in the high-octane underground street racing scene - or to form a new company, if you prefer the truth. Ward tweeted yesterday that "the news breaks. Along with @FionaSperry I have left @CriterionGames. Welcome to the REAL #tothefuture". Sperry later tweeted that "so I guess its now official! The future starts here..."

It turns out all that talk of "the future" was referring to the new games company Ward and Sperry are setting up, as revealed in this further tweet by Ward. Will the pair make games about driving/smashing up beautifully shiny cars? Only time will tell, but Criterion were/are rather good that, I seem to recall.

EA (who, you'll remember, bought Criterion in 2004) confirmed to Polygon that "Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have decided to leave EA. We appreciate their many contributions through the years and wish them well in their future endeavours.

"The incredibly creative and talented team at Criterion are hard at work on a new project for next-gen consoles as new IP continues to be a major priority across EA. Matt Webster is leading development of the new game and the Criterion studio moving forward. Matt has been part of Criterion for years and has an exciting vision for this new game."

Criterion had developed a couple of games in EA's Need for Speed series, before the majority of the company (80% of it) was moved to EA's new Ghost Games UK studio to work on the recent Need for Speed Rivals. Criterion Games still exists, as noted above by an EA spokesperson, but it's not been revealed what the newly slimmed down studio is working on yet.

Thanks, Eurogamer .

Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.