EA has chosen to prioritise Battlefield over the Need for Speed franchise this year. A report published by Polygon suggests that neither game would make it to the holiday 2021 release window unless resources are diverted, and thus EA has chosen to reassign a portion of the staff at Criterion to shoulder some Battlefield development duties.
In an interview with Laura Miele, EA's chief studios officer, Polygon was told the development shuffling didn't mean either franchise was in trouble in any way. "[Battlefield] is shaping up great, the team has been working incredibly hard, they pushed hard last year, and yes, we have been working from home," Miele told Polygon. The CSO went on to assure the gaming magazine that the next Battlefield is already a "great game," and developers will be making the most out of that potential while "playing to win," and getting the game out on next gen platforms like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X this Autumn.
Back in November last year EA told investors that new titles in both Need for Speed and Battlefield franchises would be released by March 2022. So, it makes sense to prioritise one of them for the more lucrative pre-holiday season if possible. A number of other factors helped EA make this decision. Firstly, thanks to the Codemasters acquisition, EA will have at least one big new racing title available later in 2021. Second, Criterion has lots of Dice collaboration experience (previous Battlefields, Star Wars Battlefront) so it isn't a major upheaval for some staff to be reallocated. Lastly, Need for Speed is still being worked upon by Criterion, and the Dice collab staff will be able to return as and when their projects complete. It should be completed in 2022 and not be cannibalized by a Codemasters release. Miele firmly asserted that Criterion was consulted with before the reshuffling of workloads.
The next Battlefield has yet to be officially named but various reports recently seem to refer to it as Battlefield 6. Miele wouldn’t comment on specific features or innovations in the upcoming game but assured Polygon that the title would be a "love letter to our fans," that EA/Dice aims to be great and will put all its resources into to launch successfully later this year.