Need for Speed Wiki
Need for Speed Wiki

Criterion Games (registered name as Criterion Software Limited) is a video game developer owned by Electronic Arts and is located in Guildford, England.

Established on July 21, 1993, Criterion Software Limited began within Canon's European Research Lab with the purpose of continuing their research into 3D rendering technology that could be commercialised. It was set up by David Lau-Kee and Adam Billyard as a subsidiary of Canon Research Centre Europe Ltd.

Criterion Software developed RenderWare, a proprietary 3D API graphics rendering engine, which was used for as a middleware for programs such as Active Worlds and file formats including Virtual Reality Modeling Language.

It wasn't until 1996, in which a game development studio under the same name was established, that Criterion Studios was able to gain traction in the marketplace with Renderware. Its first three games; TrickStyle in 1999, Suzuki Alstare Extreme Racing in 1999, and Deep Fighter in 2000, did not sell sufficiently enough to propel Criterion Studios from its beginnings.[4]

In 2000, Criterion Studios released RenderWare 3, a complete middleware that could function on various platforms, with the most notable being the recently released PlayStation 2. The availability and versatility of RenderWare 3 was apparent to developers, as it quickly filled a gap left for yet undeveloped technology to bridge developers from created for the PlayStation to the PlayStation 2.

RenderWare was utilised by multiple game development studios and publishers for various projects, but some of the more notable games developed using the engine, besides the Burnout series, included; Crackdown, Crackdown 2, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4.

With the support of Canon and the technical ability of RenderWare, Criterion was able to self-finance and manage the direction of development for their current racing game project; Burnout. The publishing rights for the game were sold to Acclaim Entertainment in 2001[5], and again with Burnout 2: Point of Impact in 2002.

Their Burnout series had proven to be a hit for Acclaim Entertainment, but the series' lackluster performance in the United States and Acclaim Entertainment's increasing financial instability in 2004, the rights to the Burnout series and RenderWare were announced to have been acquired by Electronic Arts on July 28, 2004.[6][7]

Criterion Games continued work on the Burnout series under Electronic Arts, with 2011's Burnout CRASH! being their last developed game in the series.

Criterion Games' first game in the Need for Speed series was 2010's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, a reboot of the basis for Criterion's design towards the Burnout series; 1998's Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit.

The Need for Speed series was handed over to Criterion Games as overseer on June 23, 2012.[8][9]

The Need for Speed series was handed over to Ghost Games in August 2013[10], and in September 2013, it was revealed through a series of tweets by Alex Ward - Criterion Game's Creative Director at the time - that Criterion Games had been reduced to 16 employees, splintering those working on Need for Speed: Rivals under Ghost Games as Ghost UK.

On February 12, 2020, it was announced that the Need for Speed series would be handed back to Criterion Games, with Ghost Games being returning to their original title as EA Gothenburg. The move meant that engineers would remain at the studio, and multiple employees were planned to move to Criterion Games in Guildford, but thirty roles were put at risk amidst the shuffle.[11]


Game Platforms
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010) PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Need for Speed: The Run Nintendo 3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 (QA Testing)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360
Need for Speed: Rivals PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Need for Speed (2015) PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Need for Speed: Heat PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One


  1. Website: (2019) CRITERION SOFTWARE GROUP LIMITED - Company number 02464484. Available at:
  2. Website: (2019) CRITERION SOFTWARE INTERNATIONAL LIMITED - Company number 04330854. Available at:
  3. Website: (2019) CRITERION SOFTWARE LIMITED - Company number 04330852. Available at:
  4. Article: (2008) IP Profile: Burnout. Available at:
  5. Blog: (2018) Burnout 1 Part 2. Available at:
  6. Article: (2004) EA buys Criterion; deal includes game studio and RenderWare. Available at:
  7. Article: (2004) EA to Acquire Criterion Software Group from CANON EUROPE; EA Acquires UK Creator of Burnout 3 and RenderWare. Available at:
  8. Article: (2012) Need for Speed under Criterion's control now. Available at:
  9. Article: (2012) How the creators of Burnout became the stewards of Need for Speed. Available at:
  10. Article: (2013) Need For Speed Rivals is a living game, and a sign of things to come. Available at:
  11. Article: (2020) EA will move Need for Speed development back to Criterion. Available at: