EA has confirmed that a sequel to racing sim Need for Speed: Shift is in development. But not only that – that game will be released in the first three months of 2011.
Nothing else is yet known about the title, though expect it to hit on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC some time between January and March.
The first Shift took the series in a brand new direction and into the simulation territory. In the years running up to its release Need for Speed had become very much the arcade racer, tapping into the street-racer demographic. However, Shift placed it right up against the likes of Codemaster's GRID series and even Sony's Gran Turismo and Microsoft's Forza IPs.
However, there's already a Need for Speed game scheduled for release in Q4 of this year – Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Unlike Shift, Hot Pursuit will echo both the earlier days of the Need for Speed series (indeed, it shares a name with the 1998 and 2002 NFS releases) and will more than likely be reminiscent of Criterion's successful Burnout series.
Until now it had been presumed that Criterion's NFS titles would share a two-year release cycle with the Shift series, much as we see with Infinity Ward and Treyarch and the Call of Duty series.
However, all signs now point to the two co-existing. It will be interesting to see how EA manages the marketing of what are two really quite disparate IPs.