The top two people at Burnout developer Criterion Games have left to form their own company.

Criterion creative director Alex Ward and studio director Fiona Sperry exited the studio this morning (as first spotted by Polygon). The pair will continue working together at a new, unnamed gaming company.

Publisher Electronic Arts, which owns Criterion, revealed that it will promote one of the studio’s developers, Matt Webster, to company boss.

“Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have decided to leave EA,” a spokesperson for the publisher said in a statement provided to GamesBeat. “We appreciate their many contributions through the years and wish them well in their future endeavors.

“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. Matt Webster is leading development of the new game and the Criterion studio moving forward. Matt has been part of Criterion for years and has an exciting vision for this new game.”

Ward and Sperry formed the game division of Criterion Software in 1993 with the purpose of using the company’s 3D graphics technology to make games. The studio provided its technology, known as Renderware, to developers like Rockstar for games that include Grand Theft Auto III.

Criterion came to prominence in 2001 with the release of its arcade-style racer Burnout for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. In 2004, EA acquired Criterion, and in 2010, the publisher had the studio take over the Need for Speed franchise with Hot Pursuit.

The studio’s most recent release was Need for Speed: Most Wanted for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Vita, and PC in 2012. In 2011, EA formed Ghost Games to take over the Need for Speed franchise, and it moved many of Criterion’s employees over to that Gothenburg, Sweden-based developer. Ghost released Need for Speed: Rivals for current- and next-gen consoles in November.

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