Some surprising news came out late last week as Criterion Games co-founders, Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have left the UK based studio best known for giving us the Burnout franchise. Interestingly enough, they’re once again going to be founding a new development studio together. The split seems amicable from the outside, though no real reasons were given for the departure. Matt Webster is leading the studio now as they venture on to a new IP.
Criterion seems to be in a transition phase after releasing Most Wanted back in 2012. The studio was handed the reigns to the Need for Speed franchise, only to see that taken away and given to the newly formed Ghost Games studio which put out this year’s title, Need for Speed Rivals. To help with Rivals, most of the Criterion staff went to work at Ghost and as a result, most of them stayed which reduced Criterion down to around 17 employees. My guess is that we won’t be seeing a new Burnout game for quite a while especially after this news.
The very easy opinion here would be that they probably were fed up with how the studio was being handled. Obviously, if true, that’s probably something we’d never hear about, but based on the recent history above, it’s easy to assume. Perhaps they wanted a fresh start doing something else? We’ve seen plenty of notable game developers recently go this route including Cliff Bleszinski and Adrian Chmielarz to name a very small few.
Either way, I wish both Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry all the best as they gave me some of the very best car racing memories in the past 10 years. Good luck to you both!