Update: Okay, this is a little strange. Instead of removing the games, EA has put three of them—Shift, Shift 2, and Undercover—on sale on Steam, as part of a two-week EA Racing Sale. (The other two games slated for delisting, Carbon and The Run, aren't available on Steam.) The sale is set to run until June 13.
Feedback on the decision to remove the games with effectively no notice was largely negative, so it's not entirely surprising that EA would decide to walk it back. What makes the situation odd is that it did so without actually telling anyone. There's no update to the sunset message, no separate announcement on the Need for Speed subreddit, nothing on social media—it's just EA announcing a delisting, and then doing a sale instead. It's almost enough to make me wonder whether someone clicked the wrong button and decided it would be easier to just roll with it for a couple weeks.
It's a nice reprieve, but bear in mind that there's no indication of any other plans changing: In-game stores are still closed, and online play is still going away. I've reached out to EA to ask about the sudden change in direction and will update if I receive a reply.
Electronic Arts is delisting a number of older Need for Speed games, which will also have their in-game stores closed and their online services retired. EA said the decision was made because it is "shifting gears to focus on the future of Need for Speed," and there just aren't enough players to justify supporting them anymore.
These are the games that are being dropped:
- Need for Speed Carbon
- Need for Speed Undercover
- Need for Speed Shift
- Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed
- Need for Speed The Run
The games in question will be removed from digital storefronts today, meaning they'll no longer be available for purchase, and in-game stores will be shut today as well. Online services will continue to run until August 31, but only offline features will be available after that.
"The development teams and operational staff have put a lot of time and passion into the development, creation, release and upkeep of the game over the years, and we love to see you play," community manager Max_Joker wrote on Reddit. "But the number of players has come to a point where it's no longer feasible to continue the work behind the scenes required to keep Need for Speed Carbon, Need for Speed Undercover, Need for Speed Shift, Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed and Need for Speed The Run up and running."
The games have already been removed from Origin, and while Undercover, Shift, and Shift 2 remain available on Steam, they'll presumably be gone from there later today as well. Predictably, some fans are upset with the decision and the suddenness of the announcement, but all of the impacted games are at least a decade old and, based on numbers from Steamcharts, have tiny player bases.
As for that future of Need for Speed, it was recently pushed back so developer Criterion could help out with the future of Battlefield. We now expect to get a look at what's coming sometime prior to April 1, 2022.