A sad day for Burnout fans- Criterion Games reduced to 16 people...

So if you're like me, you enjoy a good arcade racer every now and then. And out of all the arcade racers out there, one stands out for being one of the most insane, adrenaline-packed, balls-to-the-wall crazy experiences ever released on a console.

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If F-Zero GX is the best future-racer ever made, then Burnout 3 is arguably the greatest arcade car racer ever gifted to gamers. A phenomenal sense of speed even to this day, perfect twitch-based handling, incredible crash physics... about the worst thing you could say was that the soundtrack was a bit crap.

Criterion, the developers of Burnout 3, followed it up with the almost-as-good Burnout Revenge, the slightly iffier Burnout Paradise, the cult shooter Black, and most recently Need For Speed Most Wanted. They've proven themselves time and again to be tech-wizards, and they're one of the unsung studios out there when it comes to developing games that are pure fun. Which makes it a shame that management at EA has now splintered the developer.

The majority of Criterion (around 60-65 people) have been moved to a new studio called Ghost Games UK, and they're basically going to be finishing up the new Need For Speed Rivals game, and acting as caretakers for the franchise. Criterion Games itself now numbers only 16 individuals, and is apparently working on a new secret project. With only 16 people on the team, it's hard to imagine they're working on anything particularly big for EA. If anything, I'm more than a bit worried that this sort of downsizing/re-shuffling will end up with Criterion themselves being forced to close their doors.

Either way, even if they don't get shut down, it's still a sad day for fans of the studio. It means we're even less likely to see that real follow up to Burnout 3, let alone another big project of any kind from Criterion, and it means a great developer has now lost the majority of its staff.

Good going EA. Good going.

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Y'know, I didn't have much real issue with EA. My biggest problem was the Online Passes, but they are gone now.
So now they are slowly killing my favorite racing franchise.
...WELP
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j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

... about the worst thing you could say was that the soundtrack was a bit crap.

Oh woah woah. You take that back! That soundtrack was fantastic! :D

But yeah, a sad day for us Burnout fans. I like Need For Speed and the work Criterion made Most Wanted the best since...well the previous Most Wanted, but it doesn't scratch my arcade racing itch nearly as much as some good ol' Burnout does. D:

Well at least this has reminded me that I need to play Paradise again. Haven't done that for a while.

Andy Shandy:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

... about the worst thing you could say was that the soundtrack was a bit crap.

Oh woah woah. You take that back! That soundtrack was fantastic! :D

There were a couple of good tracks, but also a lot of the worst kind of bland, filler pop-punk/emo crap that was popular at the time.

Best thing you can do, if you own the Xbox version, is do what I did: load up Appetite For Destruction onto your hard-drive, then set that as the game's soundtrack. Nothing beats knocking cars onto oncoming traffic while Welcome To The Jungle plays.

But yeah, a sad day for us Burnout fans. I like Need For Speed and the work Criterion made Most Wanted the best since...well the previous Most Wanted, but it doesn't scratch my arcade racing itch nearly as much as some good ol' Burnout does. D:

There really is no other racing series like it. I think F-Zero probably has it beat on pure speed, and the adrenaline rush that comes with that, but 3 had that really fun, really nasty Takedown mechanic which made it such a blast to drive into your opponents. It's the closest I've ever felt to feeling like a stunt driver in a really over the top racing film.

Are you even sure that this is due to EA or just Criterion Games simply costing more then it can make? I only ask because this is the first time I had ever heard of Criterion Games.

kiri2tsubasa:
Are you even sure that this is due to EA or just Criterion Games simply costing more then it can make? Because this was the first time I had ever heard of Criterion Games.

A 90 man team is not an overwhelmingly development team in this day and age, and the Burnout games and Most Wanted were all good selling games.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

kiri2tsubasa:
Are you even sure that this is due to EA or just Criterion Games simply costing more then it can make? Because this was the first time I had ever heard of Criterion Games.

A 90 man team is not an overwhelmingly development team in this day and age, and the Burnout games and Most Wanted were all good selling games.

Were are they located because someplace are simply expensive as fuck? For example San Fransisco can cost a good 2 million a year just for the office space, taxes, and utilities. Again that is assuming there weren't some overhead costs that I missed.

kiri2tsubasa:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

kiri2tsubasa:
Are you even sure that this is due to EA or just Criterion Games simply costing more then it can make? Because this was the first time I had ever heard of Criterion Games.

A 90 man team is not an overwhelmingly development team in this day and age, and the Burnout games and Most Wanted were all good selling games.

Were are they located because someplace are simply expensive as fuck? For example San Fransisco can cost a good 2 million a year just for the office space, taxes, and utilities. Again that is assuming there weren't some overhead costs that I missed.

Guildford, Surrey, is not exactly one of the most expensive places in the world to set up shop. I'm sure it cost them something to have an office space, but I cannot imagine Guildford being especially expensive for a game developer.

kiri2tsubasa:
Are you even sure that this is due to EA or just Criterion Games simply costing more then it can make? I only ask because this is the first time I had ever heard of Criterion Games.

Holy cripes man. You have a 360. Burnout 3: Takedown is backwards compatible. It doesn't run in widescreen (looks like a 4:3 ratio), but it's an excellent game. J-e-f-f-e-r-s is completely on the money, especially with Burnout 3. Seriously, go get a copy. Shouldn't be more than $10 used. If you like racers that is.

I think you'll only be able to find a copy online nowadays, but there's always a chance some mom-and-pop store would have a used copy.

Also, if you've ever played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you can thank Criterion for that. Along with dozens of other games, San Andreas was optimized to run on PS2, original Xbox, and PC by using Criterion's Renderware software.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Guildford, Surrey, is not exactly one of the most expensive places in the world to set up shop. I'm sure it cost them something to have an office space, but I cannot imagine Guildford being especially expensive for a game developer.

Having trouble finding office prices and tax rates, but I have seen house prices for houses that go for 5,000,000. I imagine that office space may be pretty expensive as well.

I get that a lot of people are probably indifferent to it or just straight don't really like it, but why does everyone always seem to forget that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a thing? Not even just the newest one, back in the day it seemed like I was the only person who ever knew that Hot Pursuit 2 was a thing that existed, for everyone else it was always Underground this or Most Wanted that.

Hot Pursuit has been the only branch I was ever interested in in the first place. I liked Criterion's take on it, even if it was supposedly just Burnout with a Need for Speed coat of paint.

Anyway, sad to see they've been downsized, but it's a little disingenuous to act like all of that talent is just suddenly gone. Let's be honest, it's unlikely EA was really going to resurrect Burnout in any proper respect in the first place, and they still have most of the people who would've been working on it under their payroll. Is brand name really that important to people, especially with all of the complaining nowadays about how the Bioware name is slapped onto everything that shouldn't have it?

shrekfan246:
I get that a lot of people are probably indifferent to it or just straight don't really like it, but why does everyone always seem to forget that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a thing? Not even just the newest one, back in the day it seemed like I was the only person who ever knew that Hot Pursuit 2 was a thing that existed, for everyone else it was always Underground this or Most Wanted that.

Hot Pursuit has been the only branch I was ever interested in in the first place. I liked Criterion's take on it, even if it was supposedly just Burnout with a Need for Speed coat of paint.

Anyway, sad to see they've been downsized, but it's a little disingenuous to act like all of that talent is just suddenly gone. Let's be honest, it's unlikely EA was really going to resurrect Burnout in any proper respect in the first place, and they still have most of the people who would've been working on it under their payroll. Is brand name really that important to people, especially with all of the complaining nowadays about how the Bioware name is slapped onto everything that shouldn't have it?

My problem is that the majority of Criterion have been carted off to work on Need For Speed for the forseeable future. Admittedly I haven't played a Need For Speed game since the original Most Wanted, but that doesn't exactly seem like a move that leaves them with a lot of creative freedom in future. Especially as Alex Ward has said in the past that Vriterion are getting a bit tired of making driving games. Now the majority of Criterion's staff are making one brand of driving games for the next few years to come. What actually remains of the company Criterion (now renamed Criterion Zero, whatever the hell that's supposed to signify) is a 16 man team, which by today's standards is nothing.

Besides man, it's sad purely from a history perspective. Criterion are one of the unsung champions when it comes to making fun games, and the company name deserves more than being essentially a shell company, while the majority of its staff are shipped off to work under another name. At one point, EA actually felt proud to put the Criterion name on their games (see how they marketed the latest Most Wanted game). It just seems a huge 180 to turn around and gut that same developer of the majority of its staff.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

My problem is that the majority of Criterion have been carted off to work on Need For Speed for the forseeable future. Admittedly I haven't played a Need For Speed game since the original Most Wanted, but that doesn't exactly seem like a move that leaves them with a lot of creative freedom in future. Especially as Alex Ward has said in the past that Vriterion are getting a bit tired of making driving games. Now the majority of Criterion's staff are making one brand of driving games for the next few years to come. What actually remains of the company Criterion (now renamed Criterion Zero, whatever the hell that's supposed to signify) is a 16 man team, which by today's standards is nothing.

I doubt that they had much creative freedom to work with in the first place. Why else would most of the complaints about Criterion's Need for Speed games from Need for Speed fans be that they feel too much like Burnout?

Besides man, it's sad purely from a history perspective. Criterion are one of the unsung champions when it comes to making fun games, and the company name deserves more than being essentially a shell company, while the majority of its staff are shipped off to work under another name. At one point, EA actually felt proud to put the Criterion name on their games (see how they marketed the latest Most Wanted game). It just seems a huge 180 to turn around and gut that same developer of the majority of its staff.

And what may be sadder still is that they'll inevitably be forgotten in the sands of time. Happens a lot in life.

I get the point you're going for, but really, working under EA it's basically something most of us should be expecting by now. The lower you hold your expectations of a developer, the better you'll feel when EA eventually makes them commit seppuku.

shrekfan246:

The lower you hold your expectations of a developer, the better you'll feel when EA eventually makes them commit seppuku.

So, in a twisted sorta way, the developers are our pets and EA is the vet holding the euthanasia needle, ready to put down our companions when they get too sick and can't function anymore?
...that sounded a whole lot better in my head...

Neronium:

shrekfan246:

The lower you hold your expectations of a developer, the better you'll feel when EA eventually makes them commit seppuku.

So, in a twisted sorta way, the developers are our pets and EA is the vet holding the euthanasia needle, ready to put down our companions when they get too sick and can't function anymore?
...that sounded a whole lot better in my head...

Shhh, shhh, it's okay, Bioware. Soon, you won't be in pain any more...

Sounds like a relatively apt comparison. Though I suppose to make it slightly more relevant to the topic of an actual industry, it'd be kinda like having a show-dog that you put down once they're too old to win competitions anymore. EA in this analogy would be... funding your entrance into the competitions as well as doing the euthanizing pro bono.

EDIT: Actually, it'd be more like we're the onlookers and we're funding the competitions. EA trots out the show-dog once or twice every year or two, and then once they're not winning anymore, down they go, even if they were still fan-favorites.

Can I possibly make this any darker?

Only one song can sum my feeling about this latest news from EA.

Take it away Queen!

In all seriousness the studio seems to be hanging on by a thread.

Neronium:

shrekfan246:

The lower you hold your expectations of a developer, the better you'll feel when EA eventually makes them commit seppuku.

So, in a twisted sorta way, the developers are our pets and EA is the vet holding the euthanasia needle, ready to put down our companions when they get too sick and can't function anymore?
...that sounded a whole lot better in my head...

I'm thinking less euthanasia needle, more a rider putting a bullet into a horses head after running it into the ground.

Problem is they've not been allowed to make a Burnout game in ages. they've been making Need for Speed games in Burnout style, which to me aren't as good as Burnout, and don't seem to be as popular with NFS fans.

Ed130:
Only one song can sum my feeling about this latest news from EA.

Take it away Queen!

I think this one's more appropriate....

At this point, this should probably be EA's anthem.

You guys all have it slightly wrong. To keep the dog analogy going:

EA are the dogs newest owners. It was a pure bred pedigree dog with papers (i.e. games people liked) used for breeding purposes. EA is the rival dog owner who showed up while the dog was just hitting it's stride, bought the dog, took this breeding dog to it's house, and performed a home made castration on it. Robbing it of it's once noble purpose, it's vitality, and it's manhood all with one fell stroke.

Basically EA are castrating the industry one noble breed at a time. I better copyright that before they make it their latest motto.

I don't think this automatically means EA is killing them off. Reducing their size as they begin work on a new IP, possibly from scratch, is not unheard of. Splintering the group seems more like an organizational maneuver for a small developer so that EA can keep their books straight, as opposed to something like Bioware that is big enough to warrant its own internal splintering.

I'm trying to be optimistic.

We are EA. Lower your expectations and surrender your cash. Your game making and technological distinctiveness to our own. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

ZZoMBiE13:
You guys all have it slightly wrong. To keep the dog analogy going:

EA are the dogs newest owners. It was a pure bred pedigree dog with papers (i.e. games people liked) used for breeding purposes. EA is the rival dog owner who showed up while the dog was just hitting it's stride, bought the dog, took this breeding dog to it's house, and performed a home made castration on it. Robbing it of it's once noble purpose, it's vitality, and it's manhood all with one fell stroke.

Basically EA are castrating the industry one noble breed at a time. I better copyright that before they make it their latest motto.

saintdane05:
We are EA. Lower your expectations and surrender your cash. Your game making and technological distinctiveness to our own. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

but remember, folks, it's those damned PIRATES that are killing the industry! Not the gutting of well-regarded studios or corporate pablum!

The only Burnout I ever played was Revenge...had a hell of a fun time with it though. I actually mastered the art of getting into a wreck while in first place and blowing up the 2nd place car as he tried to zip past me. Good lord that was fun. Even more fun were the crash courses where you had to cause the biggest, most horrific pile-ups that you possibly could. Me and a friend of mine would stay up till the wee hours of the morning doing those, laughing our asses off as we pretended to be the poor shmucks in their cars like "What the...? Is...is that a sports car flying through the-HOLY SHIT IT'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!!!"

Wow, this is a sad day although not exactly a suprising outcome for a studio owned by EA.

Burnout was the only racing series that I actually enjoyed outside of Mario Kart. Although since I stopped buying EA games I guess it's really not that big of a deal for me that they are probably going to go the way of the Bullfrog.

LetalisK:
I don't think this automatically means EA is killing them off. Reducing their size as they begin work on a new IP, possibly from scratch, is not unheard of. Splintering the group seems more like an organizational maneuver for a small developer so that EA can keep their books straight, as opposed to something like Bioware that is big enough to warrant its own internal splintering.

I'm trying to be optimistic.

Yeah, this is pretty much how I see it. I don't see that there's a lot to be pessamistic about. Most or all of the staff has kept a job here. The lead designers were getting tired of making racing games, but EA wants the talent working on NfS. So split the company and let the 16 guys come up with some new ideas, and regrow Critereon from there. The new house Ghost Games now has total control of NfS so hopefully we get start to get some consistancy from the francise.

Maybe...

Or maybe not.

Wow... EA killed a company when they weren't performing well...

And they weren't performing well because they weren't doing the games they were good at to begin with...

SURPRISE SURPRISE!

Seriously... Let Criterion make more Burnout games!

NOT a game LIKE Burnout with the Need for Speed logo stamped on it...

So what if the NFS Franchise is more well-known, if it's a game trying to be something it's not, then no-one will like it!

Then again, they churn another one out every two years or so, which means someone out there still likes it...
f*** knows who they are...

EDIT: Yes, I realise that Criterion are not 'dead'... Just thinned out a bit...
Although I wouldn't mind another Burnout, since Paradise WAS boatloads of fun...

I am truly saddened by this.I had a lot of fun with Burnout Revenge and Burnout Paradise is one of the my favorite games of this generation i still play it online to this day and there are tons of people online at any time.
I had really hoped to see Burnout Paradise 2 but it seems its not gonna happen anytime soon. Well at the very least i hope they dont shut down the servers of Burnout Paradise.Screw you EA,the most evil and anti-consumer company in the gaming industry.

shrekfan246:
I get that a lot of people are probably indifferent to it or just straight don't really like it, but why does everyone always seem to forget that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a thing? Not even just the newest one, back in the day it seemed like I was the only person who ever knew that Hot Pursuit 2 was a thing that existed, for everyone else it was always Underground this or Most Wanted that.

Hot Pursuit has been the only branch I was ever interested in in the first place. I liked Criterion's take on it, even if it was supposedly just Burnout with a Need for Speed coat of paint.

Anyway, sad to see they've been downsized, but it's a little disingenuous to act like all of that talent is just suddenly gone. Let's be honest, it's unlikely EA was really going to resurrect Burnout in any proper respect in the first place, and they still have most of the people who would've been working on it under their payroll. Is brand name really that important to people, especially with all of the complaining nowadays about how the Bioware name is slapped onto everything that shouldn't have it?

You are not the only one. Original Need for Speeds where the bombs. Hight Stakes is still awesome, and community has made some nice addon cars, though it seems the scene has died lately. Last added car was in April. :/

Also, need for speed had great concepts with Porsche Unleashed(Time progressed campaign, where you start in 50s and go to 90s, but the past part was that if you saved your cars from 50s and sold them in like 80s, you raked in some nice dough) and Hot Pursuit 2(The campaign systems was nice and easy to understand. I could see what event unlocks what, so you could ignore those that you did not like).

Another thing I liked about older NFS, up to Undercover I believe, was that you could grip trough corners and not have to drift trough them like they been oiled up or something.

EA should not have merged NFS and Burnout into a single game, as most fans from both are quite mad at it.

The reason why most people remember the ricer ones is because most of them are 12-20 year olds who grew up with Fast and Furious series, so thats why they think Need for Speed was "...always about tuning your car with oversized spoilers, brah!"

Despite this, I think all NFS up to Most Wanted where solid games.

Pretty disheartening to hear.
Revenge was a game I played entirely too much off.
I can still remember see those headlights coming at 200 mph and trying not to blink...

It'd be ok if the entire Criterion team was subsidized into this new studio but it sounds like they just cut the fat and left the rest for death.

This is fucking shit. I love Criterion, I have supported them to the very end and now this happens.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

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Someone add Phenomic to that pile of bodies. It's not a secret that I had severe issues with EA before, but acknowledging and coming fully to terms on what they did to Phenomic and Battleforge, it's just hard to not send any trace of 30 years of EA-branded consumerism on a one-way trip through the shredder.

Has anyone seen/played their take on raping a corpse, lovingly titled 'Lord of Ultima'? It's World of Waitcraft, you can pay money to speed up the game from Funeral Doom up to lightspeed levels 5000bpm. I've seen the blueberry Smurfs game and I've seen quite some bad examples of how to do F2P and milking franchises with minimal effort, but that was just a sad and smug excuse for a game.

I just dug out some old ZERO magazines. One stuck out, as almost 50% of the full-page ads in it were from EA, and all the studios and franchises they just bought back then. It looked like the smutty classified ads, just more tragic.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Guildford, Surrey, is not exactly one of the most expensive places in the world to set up shop. I'm sure it cost them something to have an office space, but I cannot imagine Guildford being especially expensive for a game developer.

Guilford, Surrey is one of the most upperclass and expensive areas in Britain.

Check out the price differential on office spaces between Guildford and Leeds
Guildford
http://www.estatesgazette.com/propertylink/browse/offices-guildford-to_let.htm
Generally around 15-25 pounds per square foot. Can't find anywhere under 10

Leeds
http://www.estatesgazette.com/propertylink/browse/offices-leeds-to_let.htm
5-15 pounds per square ft with 15 being the upper limit.

So we're talking a 66%-300% which isn't insignificant.

But unless they chose one of the flashiest properties available we're probably only talking 2-3 people's salaries

I will continue to hold hope for a Burnout Paradise sequel, absolutely adored that game.

Burnout Paradise, the only racing game I've bought for my PS3.

Fuck me that game was good..

Damn... I first played Burnout back on the PS2 and it was glorious. The graphics were wonderful and shiny, and the crashes were amazing. And now, I'm playing with models ripped from Paradise, and that brilliance hasn't changed. This is very disheartening to hear, where a neglected company focuses on another company's babies while wishing it could make more of its own, then dying the slow death. I'm hoping they can survive.

 

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