If you are or were a fan of the Burnout game series, then this news must be a hard pill to swallow. The co-founders of the series’ game development studios, Criterion Games, have left the company. According to Polygon, a spokesperson from EA had the following to comment:
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 endeavors.
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.
It appears as though the two will head up their own new studio, outside the realm of EA Games’ ownership.
— Alex Ward (@AlexanderJWard) January 3, 2014
Shortly after this had been announced, a games industry publication, Develop Online, announced that Alex had joined them as a columnist. Hopefully more insight into the move can be seen when the time is right.
We can also announce @alexanderjward will be our new regular columnist, starting with the February issue.
— Develop (@developonline) January 3, 2014
It seemed like some change of this magnitude was written on the wall at Criterion Games. Just this past September the studio lost roughly 80% of their workers as they left to make the Need for Speed games over at Ghost Games. The move was made in order to work on a new mysterious project. When you’re left with only 15 game development staff under you as an EA-owned studio, there are few prospects left from a creative standpoint.
What is left is uncertainty. The Burnout series’ future remains doubtful, and what exactly EA has in mind for Criterion Games is a mystery. However, knowing the company’s past with taking on development studios and how they reached their endpoints, the waters are murky.