Burnout was once a leading racing franchise with unique mechanics that separated it from the pack. The series began in 2001, but really made an impact on its third title. Burnout 3: Takedown was critically acclaimed, and set a new bar for the series. From this point on, Need for Speed had a rival in the market. Perhaps so much so that Devs of Need for Speed still don't want to be compared to Burnout. Despite both being produced by EA, there was now an alternative racing game with a larger focus on crashes and arcade-style racing, but this has largely disappeared since Burnout Paradise. The series found a niche that now feels abandoned.
Over the last decade, the racing genre has increasingly moved into an open-world setting. Burnout masterfully adapted to this change where others faltered. Burnout Paradise was met with considerable praise, but this was the last significant game since 2012. Paradise did receive a remaster last year, yet this isn't a new entry in the series. It is surprising is that the remaster topped the UK games charts and sold the most copies at launch since the infamous Burnout 3: Takedown. In fact, many were disappointed when Burnout Paradise's servers were taken down.
There are very few games that praise players for crashing, dodging oncoming traffic, and playing as fast and loose as possible. Recently, some of the former developers of Burnout revealed Dangerous Driving. The game delivered on many of Burnout's themes and mechanics. Yet, the game lacked the polish of a AAA title, and therefore didn't quite land like the Burnout games of old. A lack of willingness to invest in a reinvention of a classic may be one reason for the lack of a new game, but there are other aspects that should be considered.
The Burnout franchise peaked at a time when soundtracks were an integral part of racing games. Need For Speed: Underground also had a soundtrack packed full of every semi-major labels latest up and comer. Burnout 3: Takedown featured artists like Rise Against, Yellowcard and Fall Out Boy, so there would be a lot of fans who would be unhappy with a game which didn't have an impressive soundtrack. This synergy is no longer commonplace, and it would take a lot of resources to bring in labels to the equation for a new game.
Undoubtedly, there are hurdles to overcome for a new title of Burnout. EA has also claimed that despite retaining the licence, car manufacturers don't wont to give image rights for their vehicles only to have them slammed into a busy crossroad. Yet, EA made this work once, and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to believe it can be achieved again. After the excitement surrounding Burnout Paradise's remaster, it seems like a sequel could be viable.
The Burnout series has sold over 15 million copies. This is pretty impressive considering it wasn't one of the founders of the racing genre. When the success of Paradise is taken into account alongside these sales, there is clearly still an audience. Furthermore, Burnout 3 has long been on the top of lists for PS2 emulations for PS4, so while the genre isn't as large as it was, it could still prove to be incredibly profitable when executed correctly. Electronic Arts, like any top developer, needs to make a profit and the numbers would suggest they still can with this series.
Burnout is a game that can capitalize on nostalgia and deliver a fun experience for players. EA can profit from the game in numerous ways, but perhaps, more importantly, it can deliver a game that is solid and pleases fans. All it has to do is strike some deals with record labels and car manufacturers, though this is admittedly easier said than done. That said, judging by its other titles, these deals have already been struck. There has been plenty of excitement around spin-offs such as 'Project Idaho', and this would surely crossover to another Burnout title. The current generation is missing out on high-speed collisions and takedowns, but if EA can deliver this, it may be a great success in terms of revenue, as well as its stock amongst gamers.