Criterion Games

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Criterion Games
Subsidiary of Electronic Arts
Industry Computer and video games
Interactive entertainment
Founded 1993
Headquarters Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
Key people
Matt Webster (General Manager and Executive Producer)
Alan McDairmant (Director of Product Development)
Steve Cuss (Senior Producer)
Alex Mole (Technical Director)
Products Chameleon
Burnout series (2001–12)
Need for Speed series (2010–3)
Owner Independent (1993–2004)
Electronic Arts (2004–)
Number of employees
25 (2014)[1]
Website Criterion Games

Criterion Games (officially called Criterion Software) is a British video game developer based in Guildford, Surrey that are best known for their work on the award-winning racing video game series Burnout.


Criterion Software Ltd was created in 1993 to commercialise 3D graphics rendering technology. It was set up by David Lau-Kee and Adam Billyard within Canon's European Research Lab, before being spun out as a majority Canon-owned startup. Criterion Software was a technology company specialising in the development of the RenderWare family of middleware technology, including graphics, AI, audio and physics components. Originally Criterion Games was a division within Criterion Software, set up to develop games, using the Renderware engine, which would act as show cases as to what was possible with the platform. RenderWare is used in such games as Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which are developed by Rockstar Games, and the successful Burnout series, developed in-house by Criterion Games.

In August 2004, Electronic Arts announced they had acquired Criterion Games and Criterion Software for a rumored GB£40 million, taking into account the purchase price and existing debt. This was followed by the release of Black, a first-person shooter set in Eastern Europe, to which they applied the action movie sensibilities characteristic of the Burnout series.

After the purchase, both Criterion and Electronic Arts declared that RenderWare would continue to be made available to third party customers. However, some clients decided it was too risky to rely on technology owned by a competitor. Electronic Arts has since withdrawn RenderWare from the commercial middleware market, although remnants are still used by internal developers.

In the summer of 2006, the company closed its Derby satellite office, making all of its programmers and support staff redundant. In early March 2007, Electronic Arts combined its Chertsey-based UK development studio and Criterion Games into a new building in central Guildford. Integration of the teams did not occur and the location housed two very separate development studios: Criterion Games and EA Bright Light before Bright Light was shut permanently in 2011. Despite being housed in the same building, Criterion Games still acts entirely independently from the rest of the Electronic Arts workforce located at Guildford.

On 14 June 2010, Criterion announced that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was set for release in November 2010.[2] The software utilizes a new game engine named Chameleon.[3] On 1 June 2012, Electronic Arts announced Criterion's second Need for Speed title, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, only a few days prior to the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, which was released on 30 October 2012.[4] At Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, Criterion Games announced that it had taken sole ownership of the Need for Speed franchise.[5]

On 28 April 2013, Alex Ward announced via Twitter that the studio is planning to steer away from its tradition in developing racing games and are instead focusing on other genres for future projects.[6] On 13 September 2013, Criterion elected to cut its staff numbers to 17 people total, as 80% (70 people) of the studio moved over to Ghost Games UK to work with Need for Speed games.[7][8]

On 3 January 2014, it was announced that co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have left Criterion to found a new studio.[9]

Games developed[edit]

Year Game Platform(s) Notes
1996 Scorched Planet Microsoft Windows
1997 SpeedBoat Attack
Sub Culture
1998 Redline Racer
1999 TrickStyle Dreamcast, Microsoft Windows
Suzuki Alstare Racing
2000 Deep Fighter
2001 Burnout PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox
AirBlade PlayStation 2
2002 Burnout 2: Point of Impact PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox
2004 Burnout 3: Takedown PlayStation 2, Xbox
2005 Burnout Revenge PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360
Burnout Legends PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS Burnout Spin-off, In association with Visual Impact
2006 Black PlayStation 2, Xbox
2008 Burnout Paradise PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
2010 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
2011 Burnout Crash![10] PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS Burnout Spin-off
2012 Need for Speed: Most Wanted Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Wii U
2013 Need for Speed Rivals Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One In association with Ghost Games
TBA Untitled Criterion Games new IP TBA New driving game IP with ATVs, helicopters, wing suits, etc. announced at E3 2014


  1. ^ Robinson, Martin (17 July 2014). "What's going on at Criterion?". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Electronic Arts revs up new Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit". GameSpot. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Tech Interview: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit". Eurogamer. 31 July 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Most Wanted is out today". Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Criterion Takes Over Entire Need For Speed Series". Game Informer. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Criterion Games not planning new a 'Need For Speed' or 'Burnout'". Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Scamell, David. "The Ghost Of Criterions past.". 
  9. ^ Crecente, Brian (3 January 2014). "Co-founders of Criterion Games, creators of Burnout, leave studio [update]". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "New Burnout Game in Development". IGN. 2 April 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 

External links[edit]