Still in keeping with its new leaf, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has admitted to the decline in quality of the Need for Speed franchise in recent years (2004 to 2007), during which time the company had subsidiary studio Black Box on a "death march", delivering three games -- Most Wanted, Carbon, ProStreet -- in a very short period. He says that's all changed now, though, and series fans have already seen the results with Shift and will again with Hot Pursuit.
"We literally had them on a death march building for five years in a row. [They were] annual iterations, they had to put it out; no rest for the weary.
It'd happened before - games publishers do this from time to time. We should have put them on two-year alternating cycles but we didn't. And the title declined dramatically. We started to lose people. They didn't want to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
It was definitely our fault."
Having seen the light, then, Riccitiello proudly states they're back on track.
"Those days are gone. We're back in two studios and we've got them on bi-annual cycles. We made really great progress... with a strong entry last year, which was more of a simulation game.
This year [with Hot Pursuit, NFS] is right back in the core action driving... it's had a two-year dev cycle... I feel great about it."
Not only are they backing off on releasing tons of titles in a short period, they've been releasing them on fewer platforms too, and allowing separate teams to concentrate on each game, tailoring them to a given platform or type of platforms based on the strengths of each studio. In short, you get lots of Need for Speed, just not to the point of overkill, and each title proves a quality release (although some would disagree on Nitro).