For racing game enthusiasts, 2014 was a very strong year as a number of high profile titles hit the market including Forza Horizon 2, Driveclub, and The Crew to name a few. Even with a good selection of games to choose from, one long running franchise that fans have come to expect to see each year was curiously absent.
Need for Speed, a series which has almost been an annual franchise for about 20 years running, had shifted development between multiple EA studios from Black Box, to Criterion, and finally to Ghost Games with the most recent Need for Speed Rivals. With quality levels fluctuating from year to year, and with a number of layoffs and studio closures, EA decided to put the series on ice for a little while. After announcing a new title coming later this year, the team at Ghost Games is finally shedding light on why the franchise took a year off.
In order to help differentiate this new Need for Speed game from past titles, EA and Ghost Games are calling this new game a reboot of the series. With so many titles being released in the franchise all focusing on different aspects of racing, the team felt that the franchise no longer had a clear and defining role with consumers. In an interview with IGN, Executive Producer Marcus Nilsson, detailed why the decision was made to give the Need for Speed franchise some much needed time off.
“For sure, it’s been delivering great experiences, but not experiences that can build on top of each other to become better and better necessarily. If you look at the last few games – Hot Pursuit, The Run, Shift, Rivals, Most Wanted – and you asked people, ‘What does Need for Speed stand for?’, you’d get a million different answers.”
With the extra time, the team began going back to the drawing board to reevaluate what the core values are for the franchise. In addition to speaking and listening to fans, the team was able to hone in on certain aspects that made this franchise stand out including night time urban racing, car customization, and tying it all together with the promise of an immersive storyline.
“A lot of time has been spent looking into the older games, into what was really popular, speaking to the fans. A lot of inspiration has been taken from the Underground titles and from the Most Wanted games in different aspects. Need for Speed used to be culturally relevant, to move culture, rather than copy it. And I think we’ve really approached this differently, and working with car culture, we’re starting to address that issue.”
While critical reception has been a little spotty in recent years for each new Need for Speed game released from critics and fans alike, it appears that Ghost Games is working hard to return the series back to its roots and implement as many fan favorite features as possible. To help in this goal, EA has partnered up with Speedhunters, a collective of photographers, artists, and other people who share a love of car culture. Speedhunters has been involved with this franchise before, most recently helping to provide content for the Need For Speed movie.
It’s not clear what role Speedhunters is serving on the new game but it’s clear that Ghost Games is putting a lot of care into this new title and giving fans long requested features such as tuning and customization. With E3 less than a month away, fans of this long running series don’t have too much longer to wait to see it in action.
Are you guys excited about the prospect of a rebooted Need for Speed?