As Giant Bomb's resident Burnout Paradise enthusiast, I would be remiss not to discuss my thoughts on the new twist on EA's Need for Speed homelessness drama. This update to Joystiq's story cropped up this morning:
"Update: We've received a tip from someone a purported EA employ who wishes to remain anonymous. According to this source, the Need for Speed series isn't shutting down -- but EA Black Box, the development team behind recent entries into the series, "most likely" is. The source explains that EA not only scrapped their plans to open up a new studio in Vancouver, but that they also decided to close Black Box, moving the NFS and Skate teams to their much larger Burnaby studios.
The source further details the fate of Need for Speed -- he claims that one of the next entries into the series will be developed by the EA-owned Criterion Games, and will likely use the engine of their racing series, Burnout. He also claims that there are three different teams within Black Box that are responsible for developing Need for Speed titles (which is how they're able to release a new NFS title every year) -- though these three teams will likely consolidate into one, leading to less NFS releases, more continuity between said releases, and, ultimately, drastic downsizing for the NFS teams."
While I must admit that a Need for Speed developed by Criterion Games would probably rock, I'd much rather see a new Burnout than a new Need for Speed. I concede that I did find Need for Speed: Carbon's world somewhat intriguing, I have enjoyed the diverse landscape of Paradise City much more. And while many here are probably proponents of licensed cars over "fake" cars, I strongly endorse the diversity in the cars of Burnout. Since the cars are not based on real world licenses, the Criterion Games team can ultimately create a more diverse line-up of cars in both terms of look and handling. Now, I'm not totally opposed to the idea of a Need for Speed from Criterion Games and I'll probably buy it. Who knows? Maybe this can convince me that the Need for Speed universe is a world worth exploring for me. If this is true, however, we can all say good-bye to Burnout. Since Need for Speed is obviously the more widely-recognized and played franchise, EA will doubtless maintain their focus on the Need for Speed franchise and probably put Burnout to rest.
So, I say we enjoy the new DLC coming to Paradise City in 2009, because that looks like where it will end. I'm guessing we'll see the next Need for Speed come 2010. Burnout's era has ended and, somewhat regrettably, Need for Speed's will continue live on for a long time.
And of course, this is all a rumor, so maybe I'm worrying over nothing.