EA is shutting down the game studio that developed the last four Need for Speed titles, putting 30 jobs at risk. Ghost Games is to be dissolved, with its Swedish premises turned into an engineering hub to assist development right across the EA portfolio.
The Gothenburg-based studio had been in command of the popular franchise since 2013, when it released Need for Speed: Rivals. A reboot of the original game arrived in 2015, then Payback in 2017 and Heat last year. However, the studio has struggled to attract enough talent to Sweden and says it needs to relocate development to a bigger hub to ensure there are enough great minds available.
While most of the staff at Ghost will be reassigned either to the new engineering hub there or to UK-based Criterion, which will be taking over the franchise, the futures of 30 staff are in doubt. EA says it is working to try to find roles for them in other departments.
Criterion has previously had control over the well-know title. It developed Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Need for Speed: Most Wanted, in 2010 and 2012 respectively. Slightly confusingly there’s also a Ghost Games contingent already based within Criterion at the latter’s base in Guildford; a major hub for video game development. Whether the Ghost team will continue to operate under that name or simply be absorbed into Criterion is not yet clear.
In a statement EA said:
“With a strong history and passion for racing games and vision for what we can create, the Criterion team is going to take Need for Speed into the next-generation,” EA stated.
“Ghost Games have helped to bring some great Need for Speed experiences to our players. Consistently delivering that at AAA levels means we need teams with diverse skills in locations where we can continually support them and bring in new team members to join.
“Despite our best efforts to establish an independent development group in Gothenburg over several years, it’s become clear that the breadth of talent we need to maintain a full AAA studio is just not available to us there. Criterion can also provide the consistent leadership that we need to continue creating and delivering new Need for Speed experiences for a long time to come.
“Criterion is a fantastic studio, and we’re looking forward to adding to their talented team and building a great future for Need for Speed. The engineering teams in Gothenburg are also vital to our ongoing plans across EA.”