The UK developer behind this year's Need for Speed: Most Wanted has revealed that EA has handed it complete control of the IP.
The franchise has been farmed around various EA studios in recent years, including EA Black Box (Carbon, Pro Street, Undercover, The Run), EA Canada (Most Wanted) and Slightly Mad (Shift, Shift 2).
2010's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, which was a hit with critics, was Criterion's first stab at the series.
But speaking to Game Informer, Criterion VP Alex Ward says that the situation has now changed.
Our stamp's going to be in everything you see in Need for Speed and Burnout going forward in the future,” he insisted. It's not going to be spread anymore across different companies. Different studios have had a crack at it – it's definitely a Criterion gig now.
"Going forward now, with Most Wanted and what we'll do in the future [will have], shall we say, a strong Criterion involvement. I'm personally involved in how the cars drive, how the game will play out, how connected they are, and what the features are."
The most obvious question is what this means for Need for Speed's spin-off series Shift?
Both instalments of the simulation-focused series have to date been developed by Slightly Mad Studios. Whether this means that Criterion will assume dev duties or just oversee the game's development remains to be seen.
Indeed, perhaps the Shift franchise is now dead? Or will it drop the Need for Speed moniker completely and go it alone”?