Following the rumours and subsequent strip-mining of EA Black Box, nobody really knew what was happening with the Need for Speed series.
Now, Blues & Eurogamer are carrying word that the series is progressing in a 3-pronged revamp on every format under the sun. The 3 products, each developed by a different developer (none of which are, surprisingly, Criterion).
Press-releases and many more details after the cut…
NEED FOR SPEED FRANCHISE RACES INTO NEW GENRES
Global Studio Teams Drive Quality and Innovation in Three New Games.
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – January 30, 2009 – Fifteen years; more than 40 countries; close to 100 million games sold. Need for Speed™ has helped to define automotive culture for millions of fans with its embrace of the car lifestyle and its cool rebellious attitude. Today, Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) unveiled the details of what is in store for the franchise over the next 12 months, as the property expands to new platforms, new categories and new media.
Need for Speed is committed to providing unique and customized experiences for all types of racing fans by establishing three independent series; simulation, action and arcade racing. Each series will be developed by a highly-specialized team dedicated to delivering the ultimate racing experiences to car enthusiasts around the world – whether they be interested in adrenaline action, arcade fun or authentic simulation.
“We recognize racing videogame fans are very passionate and unique — they want customized gameplay experiences. Whether it’s more of a realistic driving game with accurate car physics or over-the-top cop chases, we are making different games for different audiences,” said Keith Munro, vice president of marketing, Need for Speed. “Each game provides a deep, engaging and rich racing experience. We’re giving players the option to choose the best racing title that suits their style of gameplay.”
First up is what will likely be the mainstream game – Need for Speed: Shift. The official announcement post on the developers site (they being Slightly Mad Studios of GTR & GT:Legends fame) carries the majority of the details at the above link, but what we basically have is EA’s answer to Race Driver: GRID.
Need for Speed SHIFT – Fall 2009
Shift into high gear! Designed to deliver a true driver’s experience that reflects contemporary motorsports, Need for Speed SHIFT is built by racers for racers. Need for Speed SHIFT delivers an authentic and immersive driving experience developed by Slightly Mad Studios in collaboration with executive producer Michael Mann at Black Box and senior vice president Patrick Soderlund at EA Games Europe. Slightly Mad Studios includes developers and designers that worked on the critically acclaimed games GT Legends and GTR 2. Need for Speed SHIFT replicates the true feeling of racing high-end performance cars like never before. Players are thrust into the heart of the action with immersive and exciting features including a stunningly realistic first-person cockpit view camera and an all-new crash mechanic, providing an unrivaled sensation of the speed and feeling of racing a car on the extreme edge of control.
Soderlund is also part of a racing team that recently competed in the 4th edition of the TOYO TIRES 24H Dubai 2009, the first major race event of the year. His team ranked #5 in the high-profile race. Soderlund and the SHIFT development team are committed to bringing the on-the-track experience to players across the world.
Need for Speed SHIFT will be released on PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system, PSP® (PlayStation® Portable) and PC in fall 2009.
Yep, sounds like GRID. The first official screenshot even looks like it.
Next up is the casual option – carrying the provisional title of Need for Speed NITRO, heading for everyone’s favourite tactile formats.
Need for Speed NITRO (Working Title) – Fall 2009
Developed by EA Montreal, Need for Speed NITRO for Wii™ and Nintendo DS™ will have players of all skill levels hooked from the moment they get into the action, while arcade racing fans will be exhilarated by the deep and challenging gameplay. EA Montreal has already established a strong track record of developing for these platforms and will bring their unique creativity and innovation to the Need for Speed franchise.
Gamers can build up their boost as they drift and drag behind their opponents and use it strategically to change the course of the race, but watch out for the cops! Offering a fresh and unique visual style, the game features a variety of licensed cars which can be fully customized to let the game reflect the player’s taste and personality. This evolutionary take on arcade racing, bringing back the best features found in Need for Speed games, comes exclusively to the Nintendo platforms this fall.
Waggle in a racing game anyone? Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t ‘fresh and unique visual style’ a buzzword these days for ‘toned down graphics for the Wii’?
Finally, we have the cash-cow. Sort-of…
Need for Speed World Online – Winter 2009 in North America, (Summer 2009 in Asia)
Co-developed by Black Box and EA Singapore, Need for Speed World Online takes the race into the largest open world in the history of Need for Speed – designed exclusively for the PC. Beginning in Asia, this Play 4 Free action racing game will give Need for Speed fans access to licensed cars, parts and multiple game modes. Players will prove their racing supremacy through the sophisticated online matchmaking features and fully customize their profile and their ride.
The business model seems to mirror that of Battlefield: Heroes, offering free to play gameplay for most whilst the hardcore fans subsidise the game with micro-payments to add pearlescent windscreen wipers and chromed fluffy dice alongside the inevitable advertising revenue.
Still, it’s good to see EA finally attempting to bring the game out of the ‘street’ streets its been wallowing in for the past 5 years (Most Wanted not withstanding).