Just as Electronic Arts completes its acquisition of the racing games giant Codemasters, the Need for Speed franchise is going away for a bit. In an interview with Polygon, EA chief studios officer Laura Miele revealed that the next Need for Speed is being delayed by a year as its developer Criterion Games is being moved to help with the upcoming Battlefield experience.
EA announced a year ago that Criterion is getting back into the driver seat of the Need for Speed series, taking over from Ghost Games. With the new development, Criterion will be returning to developing this next-gen Need for Speed sometime in 2022. The yet-to-be-revealed next-gen Battlefield entry by DICE has been in development for a while now, and the studio even wrapped up the live support services of Battlefield V and Battlefront II last year to fully focus on the new project.
As to why Criterion is being pulled in for support, Miele had said the DICE team is "fatigued a bit" after pushing hard last year and due to pandemic working conditions. Criterion is not a stranger to giving support for DICE titles. it has previously worked on Star Wars Battlefront and its sequel, as well as the battle royale Firestorm mode for Battlefield V.
The resources being poured into the massive project don't stop there, as DICE Los Angeles is also lending support to the new Battlefield according to Miele, with it focusing on the live service department. Miele had also stressed that the Need for Speed franchise is not being abandoned or being given to another team, adding:
"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]. 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."
The upcoming Battlefield project is yet to receive a reveal or even get a name attached to it. All that's officially known is that the game is set to launch in late 2021 featuring a large bump to the number of players in a match as well as next-gen elements.