These departures come less than four months after Criterion was hit by downsizing, an EA decision that moved many Criterion employees to UK-based Need for Speed: Rivals developer Ghost Games. Following this forced exodus, Criterion was reportedly down to "about 20" employees, though EA claims that the developer remains hard at work on a new, as yet unannounced project aimed at next-generation consoles. "The incredibly creative and talented team at Criterion are hard at work on a new project for next-gen consoles as new IP continues to be a major priority across EA," the publisher stated.
Following his announcement, Ward took to Twitter, saying, "The news breaks. Along with @FionaSperry I have left @CriterionGames. Welcome to the REAL #tothefuture." In a later tweet Ward explains that he and Sperry plan to create a new development studio, though further details on their plans have yet to appear.
This marks the second time in as many days that we've received word of a shakeup at one of EA's development studios. Only yesterday we learned that PopCap Games CEO David Roberts would be departing the company, and that John Vechey, the sole PopCap founder remaining at the studio's Seattle headquarters, would assume the role.
Edit: The original version of the above article included a sentence stating that Matt Webster is a senior vice president at EA, when in fact he is only leading the development of Criterion's next project. We apologize for any confusion.