The new Need for Speed title due to be released before March 2022 has now been delayed by a year. In an interview with Polygon, EA revealed this is because developer Criterion will now be supporting EA DICE as they create Battlefield 6, due to be released on PlayStation 5 later this year.
The decision was made due to the recent acquisition of Codemasters. As this studio will already be producing a racing title for EA that will also be released later this year, the publisher decided to move the Need for Speed game away from a release window where it could potentially compete with Codemasters’ title. While Criterion will be working on Battlefield 6 for now, they will eventually return to their Need for Speed project, which will now be released on PS4 and PS5 before March 2023. As EA’s chief studios officer Laura Miele stated, “anything that’s happening within the Need for Speed brand, they are responsible for, or things come through them to ensure that they’re on board with it.”
While Miele also stressed that Battlefield 6 was not in trouble, another reason for the move was because the working conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic has made development of the title far more challenging. EA DICE has been working from home throughout and has become “fatigued a bit”:
Making games is one of the more sophisticated, and complicated, forms of media that exists, and it requires creative energy and connection to team members. I think that there’s been, you know, fatigue and some burnout, working from home. A lot of that even has to do with just the needs that people have with their families; some people are taking care of their kids at home [while they work]. So our productivity is not as high, and then the creative connection and creative energy isn’t as high when they’re working from home.
This is something EA viewed as an urgent issue that needed solving. Criterion, who has worked on the Battlefield franchise before as well as the Star Wars Battlefront games, seemed like the natural choice to help out, especially as “they have a really tight, close collaborative partnership with DICE”. As well as Criterion, Vince Zampella’s DICE Los Angeles is also working on the title, although they’re focusing more on the live service aspects of the game.
Battlefield 6 is due to be released this fall. The game will be officially unveiled this spring.