Electronic Arts is confirming that Criterion Games has, “moved on,” from the Going Beyond Cars project shown in 2014 in favor of focusing on Star Wars.
Leading into E3, it’s a tradition to put together lists of highly anticipated announcements, reveals, and surprises one hopes to be present at the event. Some are grounded, like Sony debuting a new God of War, some are outlandish, like Valve finally dropping a serious Half Life 3 teaser, and others stir up new questions and complex feelings. One perfect example is, “What is Criterion Games up to, and what happened to the game they showed in 2014?”
Criterion’s 2014 “Going Beyond Cars” reveal showed a mix of helicopters, planes, boats, jet skis, ATVs, snowmobiles, and yes, cars, thrown together into an explorable open world. It was described as, “the biggest game Criterion’s ever made.” Whatever it was to be, however, we will never know, as the project has been abandoned. In an interview with GameSpot, EA confirmed the worst:
“While [Criterion has] moved on from the previous project they’ve spoken about and aren’t pursuing it, they are continuing to build new ideas and experiment with new IP for EA, in addition to continuing to collaborate with other EA studios.”
As an example of just what “new ideas” and “experiments” Criterion is working on, it was revealed that the studio is contributing to the development of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront VR game teased during E3. Also, the developer is known to have worked on Star Wars Battlefront‘s speeder bike technology.
Perhaps it’s pertinent to recall that modern Criterion Games isn’t really comparable to the Criterion Games of old. In 2013, 80% of the studio’s staff left Criterion and migrated to EA’s Ghost Games studio bringing Criterion’s staff down to just 17 total employees. That following January, original Criterion co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry left the company and founded Three Fields Entertainment.
The reason why this news is especially disheartening is likely because of the studio’s tumultuous recent history. Fans continue to recall Criterion’s Burnout franchise with excitement and may even look on the team’s Need for Speed titles more fondly, now that Criterion has moved on. At the very least, the Beyond Cars project was a throwback that fans could get excited about, but now the studio is focusing on other projects.
And without the Beyond Cars game, Criterion does not have a project of its own. Since Ghost Games took over Need for Speed with Rivals in 2013, Criterion has contributed to both the racing franchise and Battlefield Hardline, as well as the Star Wars titles previously mentioned. The good news is that Criterion lives on, but maybe not in the way fans were hoping.