Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have left Criterion Games. Ward and Sperry were the studio’s co-founders, with the former taking the roles of vice president and creative director, and the latter being studio director.
Criterion Games will be known to most as the home of the Burnout racing series. Electronic Arts put the team in charge of the Need for Speed series and Burnout was put on the backburner. The last full Burnout title to be released was 2008’s open-world Burnout Paradise, but a top-down arcade spin-off called Burnout Crash! appeared on mobile and consoles in 2011. Criterion Games has since developed the very good Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which saw release in 2012.
Despite being put in charge of the Need For Speed franchise, Criterion went on to develop something else for Electronic Arts. What that might be is still unknown, but an EA representative who confirmed Ward and Sperry’s departure, said that Criterion continues to work on that “new project for next-gen consoles as new IP continues to be a major priority across EA.”
As for the Need For Speed franchise, the most recent entry was handed by newly formed studio Ghost Games. Over 60 of Ghost Games’ staff is made up of ex-Criterion developers, which left Criterion with a workforce of around 20 people to work on this secret new IP. With co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry now out of the picture, that project is being headed by long-time Criterion staffer Matt Webster.
Ward and Sperry have now formed a new company together.
— Alex Ward (@AlexanderJWard) January 3, 2014