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Rumor: Need for Speed series has been canceled -- or has it? [update]

The latest episode of Electric Playground brought with it a shocking (yet somewhat believable) report -- they claimed to have learned from an unspecified source that Electronic Arts is canceling the development of new titles in the Need for Speed series. When they asked for a comment from EA, a spokesperson responded with a statement that neither confirmed nor denied the report.

We tend to handle rumors without named sources with a bit more trepidation than others, but the cancellation of EA's 14-year-old racing franchise isn't completely outside the realm of possibilities. After all, the gaming industry juggernaut has sailed through fairer economic waters, and the latest installment in the supposedly canceled series, Need for Speed: Undercover, currently holds a Metacritic rating of 65 -- which also happens to be the exact number of people who purchased the game. We'll let you know when we hear more.

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.

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