The Need for Speed
series takes its first real steps into the MMO realm with the beta launch of Need for Speed World
, which is under development at EA's Black Box studio in Vancouver and EA Singapore.
The game is currently accepting applicants for its closed beta, which will take place "over the course of the next few months," according to EA's press release about the beta. The company describes the game as offering "best in class action racing with an unparalleled social experience", offering 150 miles of open world racing in multiple cities. The game will launch "this summer" on the PC.
The game comes as part of a larger strategy to develop different Need for Speed
titles tailored to different individual markets. At the game's announcement
, EA Games marketing exec Keith Munro said, "This is about crafting different games for different audiences and their unique tastes in the driving category." This idea was echoed by Need for Speed Shift
(PS3/360) producer Jesse Abney.
Late last year, EA Sports president Peter Moore hailed the death
of the disc-based model; more recently, EA CEO John Riccitiello has spoken
about massive expectations for growth in the company's digital, direct-to-consumer business.
In the press statement, John Doyle, the game's senior producer, said, "Need for Speed World
is the world’s first MMO racer -- a completely new entertainment experience for speed junkies all over the world. We have expanded Need for Speed
’s classic adrenaline fueled racing with an all-new power up system and deep RPG style progression to create a truly massive, socially-connected white-knuckle Need for Speed
Of course, Need for Speed World
is not the world's first MMO racer -- nor even EA's. In 2001 the company launched Motor City Online
, which it shut down in 2003. There is, also, of course, Nexon's Kart Rider
, which is popular in Asia and had a beta in the U.S., among other examples.
Interested parties can apply for the beta at the official website