The next Need for Speed was originally touted for a 2021 release. However, following the purchase of Codemasters, Electronic Arts has delayed it until 2022. Criterion Games were originally responsible for its development but will now pivot into co-developing the next Battlefield instead.
EA was hoping to get Need for Speed out earlier to hit its one racing game per year quota. However, the acquisition of British publisher Codemasters has freed up time for Criterion Games. As racing game specialists Codemasters will likely release F1 2021 to fulfil that quota instead.
Change of approach
EA chief studios officer Laura Miele recently spoke to Polygon about the decision. According to Miele, Need for Speed is “owned,” by Criterion meaning that it gets to make all of the final decisions. From design choices to release schedules, EA is trusting it to call the shots.
This change of approach does make some sense given the history of Need for Speed. Although it started life as the premier arcade racing game, recent years haven’t been kind to it. For many, the last great game in the franchise was Hot Pursuit, released back in 2010.
Funnily enough, Hot Pursuit was also the last mainline Need for Speed game to be developed by Criterion. Although it did also produce the Most Wanted remake which was unfortunately rushed and as a result lacked feature. Hopefully EA sticks to its word and gives Criterion the time and freedom to make the games it wants to.
After all, history suggests doing so is a good idea. Criterion Games has been responsible for some of the greatest arcade racers ever made. Anyone who grew up playing 2000s racing games surely has fond memories of Burnout 3: Takedown. If the new Need for Speed can capture even a fraction of Takedown’s personality it is sure to be something special.
British game developer Codemasters today announced that DiRT 5 is set for its second delay. The rally simulation game was previously delayed until October 9 so that Codemasters could smooth out the gameplay. However, it seems that initial delay wasn’t enough so another setback to November 3 has been greenlighted.
In the announcement posted on the official Codemasters Twitter, the racing game developer apologies for the inconvenience. It states, “The start line is now a little further away, but it’s still very much in sight.” Also, Codemasters has now confirmed that owners of DiRT 5 on current-gen will get a free next-gen upgrade when the new consoles launch.
Why DiRT 5 was delayed
Although an official reason for the delay wasn’t stated, it doesn’t take a genius to take a good guess. The ongoing COVID -19 crisis has been a disaster for the games industry. Many large scale studios have had to push back big projects due to the transition from office work to working at home.
DiRT 5 is the latest victim of the pandemic but by no means the first. Perhaps the biggest industry casualty yet was Halo Infinite which received a lot of criticism due to its underwhelming reveal last August. 343 Industries apologized for the state of the game and confirmed that COVID played a big part of Infinite’s troubled development.
Codemasters is coming off of a relatively successful year having launched multiple well received titles. For many, the latest F1 game is probably the best we’ve had in years. On top of that, earlier this year it acquired Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Studios. Adding such a prolific racing game developer to its portfolio says a lot about Codemasters’ ambition to grow as a publisher.
The DiRT 5 delays may be frustrating but all in all they should be taken positively. When a publisher delays a game it usually means it actually cares about putting out a good product. Hopefully with the extra time Codemasters are given on DiRT 5 it’ll be able to take it to the next level.