Criterion 'voluntarily' reduced to 17 staff

New UK company established to work on Need for Speed Rivals project

Guildford racing specialist Criterion Games has shrunk its workforce to less than twenty people, but the studio's creative director Alex Ward insists the downsizing was requested.

Ward addressed the new direction for Criterion with a series of messages sent to fans across Twitter.


"Criterion is just 17 people these days," he said in one message, and another claimed "we would rather work a small team all focused on gameplay rather than a huge team split by discipline".

It is claimed that, during the development of the upcoming title Need For Speed Rivals, a small team at Criterion instead began to work on an all-new project instead.

The downsizing was "completely our choice and by design", Ward said. "We're still Criterion and that is what matters."

The comments confirm that an unknown number of former Criterion developers have joined a new EA-owned studio called Ghost Games. This technically makes the UK studio a subsidiary of a company based in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Ward did not make it clear why establishing an all-new company is important in helping a small team develop a new game.

"We didn't want to take on 50 people when they are not needed. Too many folks too soon dilutes solving gameplay problems," he said.

"Hence Ghost UK was formed from a load of Criterion folks. But 15 of us retain the Criterion identity and work in a new location."

He added: "We are backed by a huge and successful wider company, Electronic Arts".

In April, Ward claimed that "after over a decade of making racing games it's time to make something new".