Criterion Games Co-Founders Leave EA to Form New Studio
Look up Criterion Games, the Electronic Arts-owned studio that created Burnout and breathed new life into Need for Speed with 2010′s Hot Pursuit, and you’ll find co-founders Alex Ward (Vice President & Creative Director) and Fiona Sperry (Studio Director) listed as “Key People.” Well, EA will have to find a couple new key people for the outfit, because Sperry and Ward have jumped ship.
Polygon received a statement from EA this morning confirming the sudden, unexpected departures: “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 endeavours.”
“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.”
Asked about the departure via Twitter, Ward responded:
— Alex Ward (@AlexanderJWard) January 3, 2014
It’s been a strange journey for Criterion the past few years. The studio appeared to reach new heights after Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit resuscitated the racing franchise in 2010, and after 2012 follow-up Need for Speed: Most wanted, EA gave Criterion “sole ownership” of the franchise.
That changed abruptly in April 2013 when Ward announced via Twitter that Criterion was shifting its focus to non-racing games and the majority of the studio’s developers were moved over to a new Need for Speed studio, EA’s Ghost Games.
Most recently, reports began circulating that Criterion is developing a Battlefield spin-off, though nothing has been confirmed.
We’ll let you know when we learn of Ward and Sperry’s “new games company.”