UPDATE: EA has told MCV that Need for Speed has NOT become an EA Sports game, blaming "confusion" for the claim in Polygon's piece. Matt Bilbey will be involved with the game, however.
ORIGINAL STORY: EA’s Need for Speed series has changed gear once again with news that control of the IP has been handed to EA Sports.
Patrick Soderlund, the publisher’s current executive vice president of EA Studios, has told Polygon that EA Sports is still under the control of Matt Bilbey, who has been working directly with both Soderlund and EA Ghost Games boss Marcus Nilsson on concocting a future vision for the series.
"Matt will run FIFA, he runs UFC, he also runs NHL. We're also putting Need for Speed and our driving business under Matt,” Soderlund stated. “We think that could benefit from fresh eyes, could benefit from some different thinking, and we think that Matt is the right guy to do that. He's got a very different viewpoint about how to make games and what great games.
"I think that we can learn a lot from the sports games and what they've done. When you play a sports game, the controller in your hand will dictate how good the game is. It's all about player control and input and how it feels. It's a feeling, right? I think that focus on pure gameplay, is something that can benefit the Need for Speed brand in a very positive way.
“When you've had a franchise that's been going on for 20 years like Need for Speed, I think it was time for us to get a different pair of eyes on it, a fresh look and feel on it. If something can come in and make take it to the next level, take it to a different direction.”
It’s certainly fair to say that while Need for Speed has fortunately recovered from the critical lashing it got in the mid-to-late 2000s, it remains an unpredictable series – in the last seven years there have been 11 NFS games from a total of 12 different developers with Metacritic scores ranging from 64 to 88.
The next entry in the Need for Speed series, Rivals, will arrive on November 15th alongside the release of PS4 in the US. It will also be a launch title for Microsoft’s Xbox One.