Criterion Games, the studio behind the Burnout and Need For Speed games, is down to just 17 people but insists that EA is not to blame.
Criterion Games Creative Director Alex Ward revealed over the weekend that the studio had pared its staff back - like, way back. "Criterion is just 17 people these days," he tweeted on Friday. The balance of the team has moved to Ghost Games, the studio currently working on Need for Speed: Rivals, he explained, although he added that Criterion wasn't going anywhere. "We still exist," he wrote in a separate tweet. "We chose not to continue making NFS games."
On the face of it, it looks like the sort of studio-level slash-and-burn for which Electronic Arts has a not-terribly-pleasant reputation, but Criterion Studio Director Fiona Sperry says that's not actually the case at all. "We lent some people (artists and engineers primarily) to Ghost as when you're making something new you don't need a whole team of people - we didn't need them, Ghost did - so it all just made sense," she told PCGamesN. "Wasn't something EA 'asked' us to do."
"My management team at Criterion sorted it out with the management team at Ghost. That's how things work at EA these days," she continued. "Teams work together, coordinate sharing of people as it suits where projects are at."
That actually sounds eminently reasonable, and it's certainly better than wholesale layoffs. But in spite of the dramatic reduction in staff and looming new project, the studio won't be hiring anytime soon; Sperry said Criterion does its best work as a small team and wants to stay that way for as long as possible.