GamesCom: Matt Webster Interview

By Darryl Kaye on September 2, 2010, 6:38PM EDT

Criterion are best known for their Burnout franchise, but they've also had forays elsewhere. However, they've now been passed the Need for Speed torch by EA and they couldn't be happier.

We had a chance to catch up with Senior Producer at Criterion, Matt Webster, at GamesCom, to talk about Burnout and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

GamingUnion.net: Criterion are known for the Burnout franchise, does this mean the end of the Burnout franchise?

Matt Webster: You know what? I love this question. When we're doing Burnout people are always like "so guys, when are you going to do Need for Speed?". And now we're doing Need for Speed, people are like "so what's going on with Burnout?". To answer your question, no, Burnout's here. Burnout Paradise was so successful for us. It's written into the DNA of Criterion, we just happen to be doing a Need for Speed game.

GamingUnion.net: Does that mean you aren't necessarily going to stick with Need for Speed?

Matt Webster: Who knows.

GamingUnion.net: It's probably EA's decision right?

Matt Webster: Well, we decided to do it. Right now, we're here at GamesCom, we're showing a lot of things that we haven't shown before. There's a load of people back home trying to finish the game for November 16th. We haven't really got any head space to think about anything else.

GamingUnion.net: In terms of the design, it feels very much like Burnout Paradise, as opposed to Shift, which was more like Forza or Gran Turismo.

Matt Webster: Well, that's the beauty of Need for Speed. It's been around over 16 years and it can handle motor sports, pro street, shift as more simulation and underground, undercover, most wanted as more story driven. So it's fantastic that it's been able to offer different creative opportunities. For us, Need for Speed has always meant what it meant for us way back. Incredible cars and amazing roads to drive on. It's fantastic to be able to take everything that I think people are expecting from a Criterion Need for Speed and actually deliver it.

GamingUnion.net: You mentioned about Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit being 4 times larger than Burnout Paradise. Does this mean there will be a free roam aspect to the game?

Matt Webster: We'll talk about some of the other events at a more appropriate time. Probably as we get closer to launch we'll start talking about the specifics of the game modes.

GamingUnion.net: What do you think a future developer working on another Need for Speed could take away from Hot Pursuit?

Matt Webster: Who knows? I think what's important to us is to make the game drive real fast. When you put the pad in players hands for the first time, we want it to favour them - let them have an awful lot of fun, let them drive the car the way they think they could drive the car. And then show them some incredible action. I think that's the core of what people would take. Plus, let's treat these connected machines in a way that's more than just putting them head-to-head. My 11,807,000th rank in Call of Duty doesn't actually mean anything to me personally, but being top of my five player friends speed wall means the world.

GamingUnion.net: In terms of post-launch support. Are you hoping to support it like you did Paradise?

Matt Webster: We learnt an awful lot doing that, and it's certainly going to inform us in the future. As for what that is, again, we'll talk about that at the appropriate time.

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