September, he named Patrick Soderlund as his replacement as head of EA Sports. The company immediately made structural changes in how it handles its EA Labels, shuffling its games under the EA Studios brand. Along with that change, the Need for Speed series became part of EA Sports, a decision that Soderlund thinks will have a positive impact on the racing property.
"I think that we can learn a lot from the sports games and what they've done," Soderlund told Polygon. "When you play a sports game, the controller in your hand will dictate how good the game is. It's all about player control and input and how it feels. It's a feeling, right? I think that focus on pure gameplay, is something that can benefit the Need for Speed brand in a very positive way."
EA Sports-branded games have shared assets and design philosophies over the years, such as the NHL team at EA Canada adapting FIFA's Player Impact physics engine to bolster collisions between players in NHL 14. Soderlund noted that the change doesn't necessarily indicate a sudden move away from the sandbox-style action seen in Need For Speed Rivals.
"It's a way for us to push innovation and push a different creative brain or mindset onto Need for Speed," Soderlund said. Need for Speed Rivals is now a launch game for PS4, and will arrive on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on November 19, launching with the Xbox One on November 22.