The next Need for Speed game has been placed on the back burner for the time being, further delaying developer Criterion's return to racing games.
EA studios chief Laura Miele tells Polygon that the pandemic has taken its toll on the EA DICE team originally tasked with making Battlefield 6, and as a result Criteron Games is pausing Need for Speed development to instead help out with the next Battlefield.
The publication also notes that Miele was quick to add that EA doesn't plan to cancel Criterion's next Need for Speed or hand it off to a different studio. The game is simply taking a back seat to Battlefield 6 for the time being.
Criterion was revealed as the next developer to take on the Need for Speed series last year, with the project originally planned as a fiscal 2022 release. The studio is no stranger to both racing games and the franchise, having notably worked on several games in Burnout series as well as Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Most Wanted, and Rivals over the years. Need for Speed Rivals marked Criteron's last entry in the series before shifting to projects like Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield V.
EA's recent $1.2 billion acquisition of Dirt developer Codemasters also factored into the decision, with Miele telling Polygon delaying Criterion's Need for Speed game will also prevent it and fellow racing game developer Codemasters from competing against one another.
“There’s no way we would have made a decision like this without including [Criterion] and discussing this with them first, and the impact that they could have on [Battlefield],” Miele tells Polygon. “They’ve worked on [Star Wars] Battlefront, they’ve worked on Battlefields, and they have a really tight, close collaborative partnership with DICE. I’m really confident that this is going to be a pretty positive win for them.”