After taking the mantle on the Need For Speed series, Ghost Games – formerly called EA Gothenburg – is facing a round of layoffs which put all of its future projects in development purgatory. Multiple sources have indicated that all contractors at the studio have been terminated, with the remaining staff offered compensation packages or having their work routed to different studios. For fans waiting on news of a new Need For Speed title, this news means they’ll have a hefty wait on their hands and no definite answer on what this means for the franchise.
Ghost Games took over the Need For Speed title from Criterion Games earlier last year. Criterion had most of their staff working with Ghost Games on Need for Speed: Rivals before most of the Criterion staff made an official switch to the newly formed Ghost Games studio, leaving only about 20 employees at Criterion.
Ghost went on to complete Rivals, which ended up being a very enjoyable game (read our review here). Last year, Need For Speed: Rivals executive producer Marcus Nilsson confirmed that Ghost Games had taken the Need For Speed torch from Criterion Games and would be handling future additions to the series.
Pictured: A rainy day for Need For Speed.
This string of layoffs comes mere months after Criterion Games founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry announced they were leaving the company. According to Polygon, it seems like none of the staff have jumped back to Criterion Games, who are now focusing on something else entirely – with Need For Speed and its development problems strictly in their rear-view.
Prior to these layoffs, there was no strong indication that the studio was facing any issues. Electronic Arts released an official statement saying the company has ‘entered a consultation period for some positions in our Ghost Games U.K. studio’, which is a fancy way of lightly admitting the studio is in deep trouble.
The Need For Speed Movie is, of course, unaffected by the tribulations of the gaming studio. The film, starring Aaron Paul, is slated for a March 2014 release and may be the last Need For Speed item seen for some time.
What do you think, Ranters? Are you worried about Ghost Games’ ability to finish a new Need For Speed title? Would you rather see a new Burnout title instead?
Follow John Jacques on Twitter @Makelevi.