In the realm of video games, one thing is certain: no matter how groundbreaking and engaging a gimmick, brand, or genre may become, players will eventually grow tired of it. Video game fans are a fickle bunch, and the developers and publishers of the Need For Speed franchise have learned that fact better than most. So after years of annual entries, current developer Ghost Games and publisher EA have announced that the series will be taking some time off, returning in 2015.
Admittedly, a publisher announcing that a game will be taking the drastic step of not releasing a new entry after a calendar year isn’t exactly headline news. But this is not the first time that the question of a troubled yearly development cycle has been raised in regards to Need For Speed in particular, with the now-defunct EA Black Box employees likening their grueling work on the franchise to a “death march.”
Since then, the task of reinvigorating Need For Speed fell to Criterion Games, the team responsible for the legendary Burnout series of open-world online racing. Their release of Hot Pursuit was a welcome update, The Run was a miss, Criterion’s return with Most Wanted proved successful – before long, the endless parade of derivative entries EA seemed intent on avoiding seemed to be locking back into step.
With Ghost Games the latest studio handed the reins to the franchise after their work on the next-gen Rivals (read our review), the wave of layoffs reported at the company shook fan confidence. So in an official post on the team’s website, Ghost Games Executive Producer and GM announced a longer development cycle than expected:
We are already deep in development on our next game and want to make this promise to you: we will listen to you. We’re going to give you the game you’ve been asking for. It will be the game you deserve, but to do that will take us some time.
We’ve made the decision to not release a Need for Speed in 2014, so we can work towards a highly innovative Need for Speed in 2015. An experience built on a foundation we know you’ll greatly look forward to.
That doesn’t mean we’re going to go silent until then. From now on, you’ll be hearing from us regularly because we need your help to shape the future of Need for Speed. We want your input on future gameplay and features we know you’re passionate about. We will keep innovating, always making sure to continue the celebration of cars and the joy they bring.
It’s always pleasant to hear that a developer (especially one having undergone fading enthusiasm) is actively seeking fan input for their next project. However, given Need For Speed‘s track record of churning out game after game – in a genre that seems to be capable of supporting less and less competition each year, no less – will have many asking why the company is only taking one year off. Would it be better to give fans more time to miss the nitro-filled arcade aspects of the series that the name implies? EA doesn’t seem to think so.
Fans are encouraged to follow the game’s Facebook page to engage in the coming months of conversation, but exactly how the game will differ from previous entries is still a mystery. For now, what do you think of Need For Speed‘s chances of coming back with a bang? Do they need to move in a different direction, or is some time off all that’s likely needed? Sound off in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
Source: Ghost Games