For The First Time Since 1996, There’s No Need For Speed This Year

For The First Time Since 1996, There’s No Need For Speed This Year

Think back. Can you remember a year when there wasn’t a Need for Speed game? The long-running racing series has punched in at least once every twelve months. It’s a bit of a surprise, then, that calendar year 2014 will come and go without a Need for Speed entry.

Annual releases for the Need for Speed franchise stretch back more than 15 years and the series has been a pillar of EA’s release schedule in the same way that Madden games have been. But NFS fans needn’t worry just because there won’t be any aggressive street racing this year. Series executive producer Marcus Nilsson says that there is a new game coming but it needs more time.

Yes, it’s weird that the announcement that 2014 will be a skip year for the series comes in the wake of a strong showing for last year’s Need For Speed: Rivals. “We’ve sold 10 million in the past. Rivals wasn’t anywhere close to that but it performed to expectations,” Nilsson told me during a phone interview earlier today. “It’s not like the franchise is in trouble or is going to go away,”he continued. We’ve got a good base on PS4. I think Rivals as a game is the most innovative that Need for Speed has been in a while.”

But Nilsson says that the success of Rivals is part of the reason that its follow-up needs more time. “We have a grand and aspirational vision of where we want to take this franchise and it’s simply going to take more time” “This is the first time that we’re saying ‘Let’s not do one this year because of what we can do with extra development. The extra time will let us take time and get feedback and have people play our code early on and get feedback in a much more integrated way.” So maybe the writing will be better?

Last year, Rivals was the only racing game for the PS4. In 2014, other racing games will be coming out during the same time frame where a new NFS title would have. But the founder of EA’s Ghost Games studio — created specifically to make next-gen titles like Rivals — says that the impending releases of Driveclub and The Crew are actually positive developments as far as Need for Speed is concerned. “Driveclub, The Crew… other publishers coming into the space is a great thing. It gives me confidence that there’s a growing audience for racing as a genre. That’s the best thing that could happen.”

Nilsson wouldn’t commit to a specific window beyond “next fiscal year” when asked when the next NFS might come out. I asked him to elaborate on the “grand and aspirational vision” for the in-development title and if being always connected would be part of the next NFS game again. “Need for Speed has a big history of being connected,” Nilsson answered. “I think you need to talk about every game being connected because, in a sense, we all are all the time. It doesn’t mean that I believe in a game that needs to be played with others all the time.”

Whatever form the next Need for Speed game takes, the wait for it is going to be longer than normal. Only time will tell if the promise of extra hours will pay off when players turn on the ignition.


    • Read a interesting article while back when Rivals was coming out and the question was asked about Underground. Nilsson said that he is well aware of the fans wanting another underground as whenever a new NFS is released, he see’s comments of when is their going to be a underground 3. Reason Underground 1+2 did so well, at the same the Fast and Furious movie came out so you had this whole car culture thing happening. Everybody wanted to soup up their car in the real world and in Underground so its a bit of nostaglia to want Underground 3. Only thing is it may not have the same impact today as Underground 2 had. Hopefully whatever they have in the works will have something like underground with rivals.

      • Yeah, that car culture thing is true, but here’s some reasons why Underground 2 was a gaming success:

        – Insane customisation of visual elements. Body kits, paints, paint types, decals, stickers ….
        – Insane performance customisation. There’s at least 6 parts that I recall, each having at least 5 performance tiers.
        – Massive amount of different tracks.
        – OPEN WORLD.
        – No cops. Seriously, this is my personal major point dragging down the entire series.
        – The graphics were top notch for the time. The same can’t be said for Rivals.
        – The arcade-ish handling was top-notch for the time. It was seriously on point. Not too realistic, not too arcade. Rivals has gotten worse.

        • What about open world appeals to you in racing games? For me, personally, I think the decline of racing games overall is linked to the fact that they are trying to make them all open world racers. When you have to create a seamless world to race in and shoehorn the start and finish lines into that, the layout of the tracks are compromised. The graphics won’t be as good, and the gameplay feels hollow for the majority of the gameplay.

          Ask yourself what open world racing really adds to the experience, especially if you don’t want cops in it. The police were one of the few things that made the open world layout actually have a purpose.

          For me, personally, games like Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2 and Burnout Revenge were the top of the class. Because they gave you tightly curated tracks and focused on the part of the game that’s actually fun, racing. Driving around aimlessly in a world that is barely interactive isn’t fun.

          Anyone who says Burnout Paradise was the best one must not have played Revenge or Takedown. The Hot Pursuit remake did it right where it was menu based but with the option to drive around in the open world and connected tracks if you chose to.

          Underground was awesome but not for the racing, it was all the customisation that made it cool. Underground 2 was better in almost every way EXCEPT it was open world.

          • For me Open World is a big thing for me. I loved just to be able to do what i couldn’t do in real life. That is get on the highway and put my foot down getting up to speeds of 250 km/h, weaving in and out of traffic without worrying about getting caught by police and having to outrun them. Driving around aimlessly may not seem at all fun to you but for me and other people, it’s actually alot of fun in a weird way. So Open World is a must for me.

  • I didn’t even realise there was a steady stream of NFS games being released that whole time.

  • I would love to see old school car customisation return. It’s something that ha been lacking in racing games of late (even with the GTA series).
    Most Wanted was my favourite NFS title.

  • is that screenshot NFS RIVALS? I’m guessing because of the rain soaked car… mmmmm Jaguar XJ220 goodness

  • I bought Rivals just for a simple racing game to play with mates over. Never thought about the possibility that it wouldn’t have split screen. So now I’ve played it for maybe 10 minutes and it’s gathering dust.

  • Rivals wasn’t a ‘next-gen’ titled, nor do I consider it a success. It was legitimately terrible. I paid $79 and traded in in for $35 just to get rid of it – and I’m a tight-ass.

    We need to get back to a title without cops. EA just can’t get it right.

  • I think EA should put NFS on hiatus for a while. Let it simmer a while and then put some decent effort back into it. Maybe do a string of Road Rash games for the time being.

  • This is a good thing. I guarantee that the extreme majority of people playing NFS these days aren’t the same people who played the first few.

    It is unclear what they can really do with NFS at the moment.
    The originals had supercars and interesting race tracks/open roads (that were closed off into a loop however…)
    NFS Underground was the first ever game to bring a proper/deep visual car customization experience in regards to japanese sports cars etc, something we’d wanted for quite some time, but after a while it all got a bit tired and the ricer trend was in decline before Pro Street even landed.
    Since then, NFS has just been a messy compromise of both, and EA just kept shovelling out a new NFS title on a regular basis hoping for the best, but the fact EA has now backed off means it really must be in a bad way even for them.

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