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Criterion Games co-founders leave studio to start new company
Criterion Games co-founders leave studio to start new company
January 3, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

January 3, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing

News broke this morning that Fiona Sperry and Alex Ward, co-founders of Criterion Games, have left the company. An EA spokesperson later confirmed their departure in a statement to Polygon.

It's the latest in a string of departures from the UK-based studio, which lost 60-65 people earlier this year as EA transferred talent to new Need For Speed developer Ghost Games.

At the time Ward seemed upbeat about the transfer, citing it as an opportunity for Criterion to work on something other than a new Need for Speed. The studio had previously developed multiple Need For Speed and Burnout games, including the highly-acclaimed Burnout Paradise.

Today Ward confirmed to VG247's Dave Cook via Twitter that he left Criterion to start a new company with Sperry, but at this time neither has given any clues to what their next venture might be.

Gamasutra has reached out to both for comment, and will report back with any meaningful updates. In the meantime, Criterion Games appears to still be working on unannounced projects.

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Adam Merkel
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I'm going to be honest - Do we really need another small company with deep experience trying to wedge into the indie scene? I feel like these guys would be better off joining a studio that's already been established but is nowhere near the size of Criterion.

But if that's the direction they want to go, guess all I can do is wish them good luck. They're going to need it with all this saturation.

...Well, there is one thing I will say: Go somewhere that needs the job diversity. We're talking packing up and selling the house, and moving to a city that's got less than 15,000 people in the local area, most of them working at a wage few cents away from minimum, and an Internet connection that is at best near minimum broadband speeds. While it doesn't sound ideal, the tradeoff that is the lower cost of living and taxes means the startup has more room to breathe and has a higher chance to stay afloat compared to the others who are in a metropolitan scene.

Justin Kovac
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Solid fast broadband is probably still a requirement. And is available in small towns.

I have seen successful tech companies, for that matter, companies that sell nationally succeed in towns of 16k with the closest half million metro area 8 hours away by car.

More and more small teams are existing in multiple cities anyway, I would be curious how much a benefit small teams see being headquartered on the west coast. Is the benefit being so close to others in the industry worth the cost? Is the ability to see someone face-to-face vs Skype worth the thousands in additional business and living expenses?

Katy Smith
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"I'm going to be honest - Do we really need another small company with deep experience trying to wedge into the indie scene? "

That seems like a very snooty statement. Why would having experienced developers hurt the indie scene? They are now independent of a publisher so they can make what they want on their own schedule. Isn't that what being indie is all about?

John Flush
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Two stories about EA acquired studios losing their 'top' people as 2014 starts... sounds more like EA's 'can't cash out' clause for these people that finally expired.

Time to start a new studio, wait for EA to come acquire, and cash in again...

I'm sure these people have some pretty good ideas they have been holding onto while EA tell them to crank out the same old stuff with Online and Facebook integration.