Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello claims his company has “the strongest brand portfolio in the game industry.” Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick might contest that fact, but there is no question that where EA games are concerned, it is often not a matter of if but when a new installment in a successful franchise will come down the line — even when the game is question has yet to be fully revealed.

As part of a slide show accompanying its Investor Relations call yesterday, during which Star Wars: The Old Republic’s dwindling subscription numbers contrasted with the success of Battlefield 3 and Origin, the company revealed the release window for just such a game: the next Need for Speed. Release windows for EA’s many anualized sports franchises, in addition to Crysis 3 and the new SimCity, were also on display.

We might not know for sure what the next Need for Speed game will be called or who is developing it (then again, we might — more on that shortly), but now we do know when to expect its release. Get ready for Need for Speed something-or-other in the third quarter of this year, meaning sometime between October 1 and December 31. The only other game EA currently has slated for the same time-frame is Medal of Honor: Warfighter, which debuts October 23rd. Meanwhile, both Crysis 3 and SimCity join Dead Space 3 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, so expect them sometime during the first three months of next year.

Electronic Arts Announced Titles Release Schedule
Alright, so a new Need for Speed is due, more or less, during the holiday game season — just like always. That’ll potentially put the game in competition with Microsoft’ Forza Horizon, the “fast-paced, pick-up-and-play” offshoot of the traditionally sim-focused Forza series, which is expected to launch this Fall. Still, the question remains, what can we expect from the next Need for Speed?

The rumor, courtesy of  South Africa’s BT Games, is that it’ll be a Criterion developed sequel to Need for Speed: Most Wanted. It’s worth pointing out that pretty much every title leaked by the retailer — God of War 4 (which turned out to be Ascension), Dead Space 3, The Jak & Daxter Collection — has ultimately proven to be for real. Will Need for Speed follow suit? Plus, with a Fall 2012 release, what do you think the chances are that the next Need for Speed will appear on Wii U?

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Source: EA Investor Relations