The restructuring at EA following the appointment of new CEO Andrew Wilson has had one rather unexpected consequence: Need for Speed is now a sports game. Well, sort of.
In an interview with Polygon, EA Studios executive vice president Patrick Soderlund has revealed that future titles in the arcade racing franchise will be overseen by Matt Bilbey, the man in charge of the company’s FIFA, UFC, and NHL titles. Technically speaking, that means it falls within the EA Sports division—though Soderlund recently decided to integrate the Sports and Games labels into one unified entity in an effort to foster better collaboration.
This move seems to be largely motivated by that same end goal. “I think that we can learn a lot from the sports games and what they’ve done,” Soderlund said. “When you play a sports game, the controller in your hand will dictate how good the game is. It’s all about player control and input and how it feels. It’s a feeling, right? I think that focus on pure gameplay, is something that can benefit the Need for Speed brand in a very positive way.”
At first glance, the move to the EA Sports division might seem like a sign that the franchise will turn away from its arcadey roots, but Soderlund said he finds it “highly unlikely” that Need for Speed will attempt to compete with hardcore simulators like Gran Turismo and Forza.
Exactly what changes the partnership will lead to, if any, remains to be seen. It’s not even clear, at this stage, whether upcoming titles in the series will feature EA Sports branding.
Either way, we can all rest easy knowing this is almost certainly the first step towards a glorious future where ramming cop cars with a souped-up Bugatti Veyron becomes an event in the summer Olympics.