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Patrick Soderlund on Shift Franchise Direction

Patrick Soderlund on Shift Franchise Direction

Afew days ago when news surfaced that Slightly Mad Studios’ upcoming sequel to Need for Speed Shift would be named “Unleashed”, several readers wondered if that’s an indication on the direction the title is going.

Now, a very interesting interview with EA’s Patrick Soderlund on the future of the Need for Speed Shift franchise has been released by Eurogamer. Soderlund explains that while other NFS titles will be taking care of the arcade oriented market, Shift will continue to cater to the simulation-oriented players as EA positions the franchise as cross-platform alternative to console driving titles such as Forza Motorsport & Gran Turismo:

“The idea for us is to come out with a holiday product, around Christmas time every year, that is true to the core tenets of an action NFS game, which is usually what most of our consumers are after.

We also think we can compete and ultimately become market-leading in the simulation authentic motorsport segment. One of the strongest points we have is, apart from the fact we have a very talented developer working with us and we now have an established brand underneath the NFS umbrella in that segment, we also have the advantage of being a multi-platform offering.

Forza can only be bought on Xbox and Gran Turismo is only available on PlayStation. We’re the only one right now that is of a significant weight that can offer something up on all those platforms.”

The full interview can be found here, the quote above is the only bit about Shift 2 as the interview mostly focuses on the arcade NFS titles and other EA products.

  • sommergemuese

    So we get really many cars like on Forza or GT5?

    I can’t believe this. If this is true I’ll love Shift 2 even more.

    But PLEASE get rid of Wrecking AI an focus on Simulation.

    EA: You have Arcade: Hot Pursuit coming these days, End 2011 a new Black Box Need for Speed and Shift. So no Arcade/Simulation “Hybrid” is needed anymore

  • Free2game

    After Shift, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • Justin ForzaBarรงa D’Cruze

    The key will be how well driver aids and controls are implemented. Even if the driving model is simulation, one way or another they need to make the game accessible to casual gamers so that it sells. Original Shift out of the box was infuriatingly poor and needed too much fiddling to get the controls to feel like you wanted them to. The control lag didnt help either.

  • Denis P.

    SHI(f)T 1 was not more of a sim than ‘The GRID’. No point to discuss issues with controls if cars follow a monorail and rotate around their centre axis to emulate over/understeer.

  • Lvolz

    I know everyone has really strong opinions and I’m sure I’ll get flamed but I love shift.  I play GTR2 and RF regularly and I’ve got my core group of mates in that sect but I have a console too and honestly shift is a blast to toss in the disc and have a nasty, raw, loud go in quick, easy to set up private race with friends.  It’s not spot on really in any area but it’s bloody fun without all the pretense performs pretty well (decent) and looks beautiful (at least the cars they took the time to model well.  I think everyone should just enjoy it for what it is.  It’ll be nice if maybe they push a step or two farther toward SIM in this next iteration (I’d like to have my car actually stop running if I plow a wall at 180)  but I’m not trying to rush them in the SIM direction either.  

  • enthusiast

    In need for speed Shift it was impossible for me to find correct controller settings (logitech g25). The cars’ handling felt imprecise and most of the time uncontrollable. Besides the graphics in my opinion Shift is for the biggest part FAIL. Only 16 players in multiplayer, awards for wrecking other competitors and so on.
    EA will not change anything substantial in the sequel(s). As the majority of the players will play it via console and gamepad it’s obvious that there won’t be any improvent regarding physics and controllers.
    Looking back at what was promised by EA for NfS Shift in all the pre-release coverage, interviews etc. and comparing this to the actual product you can’t shake off the thought everything was a show held to screw a lot of people. Patrick Soderlund is not trustworthy for me any more.

  • Markuz

    I wish they’d man up to their word. Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve still bought Shift even if it’s pure arcade but its handling is really weird. It focused too much on pleasing both arcade and sim fans it got lost in the middle. Plus, the PC version was left buggy.

    And EA better throw a lot of money and SMS hire a lot of talented developers if they’ll take the numbers-oriented GT and Forza series. I’m not saying they’re not quality racing games, it’s just that their number of cars are one of the highlights on their marketing strategies.

  • Markuz

    Yup, even compared to F1 2010 I still prefer Shift’s graphics. Still gets beaten by DiRT 2 imho though. But Shift’s imprecise steering, the collision stutter bug and the brake balance bug, ARRRRGGGHHH!

  • Markuz

    Oh, Shift gets beaten graphically by F1 2010 when it rains though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Markuz

    It’s not a hybrid, it’s a frankenstein of the ugly things from arcade and sims.

  • Turkey :D

    Need for Speed, Shift, and “sim” do not belong in a sentence, unless you’re saying Need for Speed Shift isn’t a sim.  ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Valves Of Houston

    The number of people who jumped straight into Pro mode with no assists and then immediately complained about handling continues to amaze.  They should definitely take a lesson from Forza 3 and GT and make the steering assists more obscure to disable, most people simply jump straight to maximum difficulty and then complain when they can’t handle it.  Often in the most amusing possible way of blaming their own incompetence on the game being somehow ‘arcade’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    They should really install some kind of browser plugin along with the game that posts the most recent physics source and output in hidden text along with the whine.  Particularly the old “cars turn around themselves” line never gets old, which you can read as “I literally have no idea in what way I should combine steering and power unless the computer does it for me” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • SMS

    Shift has sold more than twice the amount that Forza 3 has sold. That’s despite a lack of bundling. 

  • SMS

    This isn’t accurate. Shift ran probably the most advanced physics engine on the market at release. 

  • Justin ForzaBarรงa D’Cruze

    Ofcourse its not a sim, thats why the guy who did the tires for Shift is the same person that did the physics for RBR. Clearly they needed someone with his expertise to create an arcade game…

    I’m sorry but if you setup the controls properly (which is time consuming I admit) it takes less than 2 mins of driving to realise there is a proper physics engine underneath.

  • Valves Of Houston

    How much did Shift sell exactly?  I have seen “3 times grid”, the develop100 figure (easy for sms, not sure about whether turn10 is forza2+3?), ‘4-5 million’, ‘nfs franchise sold 100 million with Shift’, and so on.  But not much that puts an absolute figure on it (no idea what forza 3 and grid sales source is used for example).  How much on each platform?  Did it really do anything on PC, PSP, Mobile?

  • f0xx

    True words.

  • Blackat

    Although I’m very much into sims, I love Shift. As other people have stated, I also see it as a sim/arcade mix, but pretty well done, and if EA is going to use Shift as their game in the sim market, that’s great news in my book ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mr. A

    It doesn’t matter when most of the game felt completely off or broken.

    I big disappointment coming from developers I once respected a lot.

  • Blacker

    Don’t get me wrong mates, I’ve played Shift and continue to play Shift, it’s entertaining for sure. It’s unfathomable how anybody could remotely consider this game a simulation. I’ve got some American buddies with a Civic Si that set up a few turns very similar to those in the game, and compared how the cars handled, and the results were staggeringly bad.

    I’m sorry, whilst it was worth it buying the game for its entertainment value, Shift is not a simulation and in my humble opinion, they will never become the market-leading simulation.

  • bob

    I just uninstalled Shift last night. I played the crap out of it too, just not enough tracks and the 2 minute countdown timer makes racing with friends with full bladders very difficult.

  • Carbonfibre

    I was generally looking into getting Hot Pursuit for a bit of fun but holy crap, it looks so boring! I find it fascinating they can jazz up graphics to such an extent that they can glorify two bricks going along a slot car track bashing each other until one brick explodes!
    It can’t be just me, arcade racers genuinely had good physics and good addictive gameplay value a few years ago, take Flatout 2 for example. Today, arcade has “evolved” into taking away brakes and steering, replace physics with social networking, and the brain dead masses still get excited over shit like this?! There is another category for this sort of trash and it’s called the “casual game”. Borders are getting crossed here.

  • David Wright

    For me this is the best news.  EA are looking to take on Forza and Gran Turismo.  It won’t be easy but like they say, they do have the resources to do it.


    This is the best decision i have seen a company  make in a while.

    Entire time I played shift all I could think was this company could easily build a true SIMULATOR.

    pARTS OF SHIFT ARE REALLY ARCADE AND SOMEWHAT HOKEY, but in 15 years of pc racing I have had the closest real life feel in shift then ever before.

    If they refine and continue to direct the title and focus to sin they can really have something top notch. There touring cars drive and have best force feedback and sounds of any race game or equal too, not to mention the best graphics.

    great news!


    remember hot pursuit is made by a different company.


    they didnt say its a sim. there working toward leaning to more of a sim. big difference.

    Another thing to mis informed people that have no clue. the name ”need for speed” title is shared by many different dev companies not just one.  sigh.


    Sigh, ea does not make the game people they own the Franchise to the name NEED FOR SPEED, They out source to different dev groups to creat software fo the title.

    THE REASON SHIFT HAS SUCH PROMISE IS MAD DOG SOFTWARE is a team of devs that worked for SIM BIN. tHERE SIM BACKGROUND IS WHY THIS GAME HAD SOME ARTACTIVE FEEL TO SIM RACERS. bUT TO make it for need for speed  chain it had to be arcadish.

    These devs could easily make a full blown sim and have the talent to do so. It is Ea THAT WOULD HOLD THEM BACK FROM DOING SO, THAT IS WHY THIS IS GOOD NEWS.

    learn facts please before blabbering stuff that you don’t even know what your talking about please people.


    hi markuz  …while i often agree with you this time im not so sure. Go race nord or spa with all graphics on high.  I have high end card and i feel there equal or maybe shift has the edge.\

    problem for me with both of these games is that there produced for multi platforms which makes the UI clunky and painful to navigate through impairing the overall experience for most pc users.

  • Turkey :D

    True, EA didn’t say it’s a sim, but what I’m saying is.. they need to stop using the term sim in interviews. It’s misleading. Even though they aren’t saying it’s a sim, it makes the reader/listener associate what they’re talking about with sims. Clever, but not in good taste. 

    EA also needs to stop reusing the Need for Speed name for EVERY racing game as well. The first few games that came out in the 90’s were true NFS titles, as in they had similar arcadey gameplay, cops vs. speeders, circuit tracks modeled after local roads ect. Shift is neither a good arcade racer, nor does it simulate anything well, unless you apply community made mods.. Yes, the game engine has potential, but the suits at EA stomped on it..

  • Markuz

    Compared to DiRT 2? Dunno. It’s subjective I guess. Perhaps I’m saying DiRT 2 wins is because I really enjoy watching its replays and if I step far from the screen I sometimes think I’m watching real life rally footage. With Shift the cars on replays (especially AI) don’t move like real cars. It’s like watching multi-player racing with huge amounts of lag.

    But yeah, Shift’s Nords is fantastic. When it was released on a buggy state its only redeeming value then was to do hotlaps on Nords.

  • Markuz

    I think the best news would be for SMS to have lots of money and be able to fund themselves and make the ultimate racing game they dream to make without EA’s “no that doesn’t sell” BS.

    I also hope SMS stays away from PhysX. I think I saw threads wherein Shift uses PhysX no matter what GPU you have but forces it to the CPU. It should be either it’s ON for Nvidia video cards and OFF for AMD/ATI. And yeah, please let us turn it completely off like the rest of other games using it.

  • Uff

    It does matter, as it means it can be turned out into something good if only they are let free to use it properly.

  • Mr. A

    For a new game it could matter of course.

    I was talking about Shift 1, which they certainly aren’t going to patch into something that could be enjoyable to play. So defending Shift 1 by saying it had the most advanced physics engine is pointless when so many game design choices and other problems made the game unplayable, in my opinion.

  • Michael

    Oh c’mon he’s just saying what you want to hear.

    Where is the evidence of them having “a talented developer” – if you’re saying the evidence is NFS Shift 1 then you’re kidding yourself.

    This is the company that were too cheap to buy a license to release DLC for ONE manufacturer on the PC. Do you really think they will compete “multiplatform” with Forza and GT?

    You’re kidding yourself if you do. They are no more going to support the PC than they did for the first version of the game (or, for that matter, for any of their games)

  • Michael

    Yet they still didn’t release the Ferrari DLC for 2 of the platforms or fix any of the remaining bugs.

    Make the money last, you won’t get any more ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Michael

    “Shift gets beaten graphically by F1 2010 when it rains though”

    Well it did, until the recent patch ๐Ÿ™

  • Michael

    “Shift ran probably the most advanced physics engine on the market at release.”

    Complete and utter bollocks.

  • Michael

    Don’t be fooled by his “multiplatform” comment.

    All he means is “we’re releasing a game on both consoles” – if they put out a PC version don’t expect better than what we had before – lots of bugs left unpatched, no DLC.

    And don’t kid ourselves that they are going to have the number of cars or track of Forza or GT on the consoles either. Remember these guys were too cheap to get a Ferrari license for even the PS3, let alone the PC.

  • Valves Of Houston

    I guess their evidence is single handedly turning around the NFS brand for EA?  Getting 9s from critics and picking up the simsport ‘sim of the year’ award?  Selling millions of copies and putting their game in the publisher’s top 3 unit movers for 2009?  I mean obviously, this is nowhere near as well as they would have done if they had licensed the entire Ferrari brand for a $10 DLC for people to pirate, but it’s still pretty good don’t you think?

  • chaostheory

    @Markus: whats wrong with physx? I have nvidia card and am using it (physx) on cpu, not gpu. As far as I remember Shift cant even be run with gpu physx, or maybe it allows it only if it detects to GPUs (second one for physx).

  • glenn

    markus i agree with you 100%

  • glenn

    ”I guess their evidence is single handedly turning around the NFS brand for EA?  Getting 9s from critics and picking up the simsport ‘sim of the year’ award?  Selling millions of copies and putting their game in the publisher’s top 3 unit movers for 2009?  I mean obviously, this is nowhere near as well as they would have done if they had licensed the entire Ferrari brand for a $10 DLC for people to pirate, but it’s still pretty good don’t you think?”

    ๐Ÿ˜Ž   plus people that don’t follow this stuff should not talk. obviously michael does not know sim bin ex employees left to create slightly mad studios, so if you don’t think gtr/ gtr2 race 07 gtrevo /race on so on are not good race games then what can i say? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • R3MaK3R

    obviously you’ve never even played the DEMO of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit,, so don’t even talk about it like that.

    In fact the turn require you to brake when cornering, but it a Burnout sort of way where you drift, but unlike in BP you slow down when sliding, which was a good move.
    And you say “glorify two bricks going along a slot car track and bashing each other until the other one explodes”. Gosh you must have the most pessimistic mind ever.. you must think a race is just “two bricks next to each other, what ever one is in front wins”. and this is just ONE of the Cop game modes, and it’s also a lot more fun to play than watch.

    Also the graphics on Hot Pursuit aren’t the highlight(infact they are very great at all), it’s the gameplay.

    Make sure you think before you post something bad about a great arcade racer when you know nothing.

  • scca1981

    Yet Shift was nothing like Forza or Gran Turismo and imo is no where near the quality level of either game.

  • Valves Of Houston

    I love that you have this perfect loop of crazy running around inside your head so that even an attempt from EA to tell you that a game is not intended as a sim is actually an example of them using their brain satellites to poison your mind by using the word sim.  AND you used the word “suits”.  Can we get a league running for “most representative example of simracer crazy” for 2010?  This is my pick so far.

  • SMS

    Complete and utter fact.

  • Vmk

    If they put a Gt5/Forza 3 like physics on SHIFT 2 would be great…

    If they would put a unlockable physics mode like “hardcore mode”, that would be like rfactor, iracing, GTR, SHIFT 2 would be FREAKING AWESOME.

    But if they put a crappy, weirdy and soapy handling like NFS SHIFT would be BAD, pretty BAD.

  • Vmk

    Agreed, the game exceeds in everything, EXCEPT physics. And it hurt to know that it could be a better game. IF they want to compete with GT5 and Forza 3, why didn’t hey put a physics system close to these games? The final product handles NOTHING like neither of them.

    Its a shame, because a games that looks so good and sounds so good, makes me loose my patience after a few minutes. The handling its horrible.

  • Valves Of Houston

    I hardly think Forza 3 and GT (as it stands) are quite the masterpiece you are making them out to be.

    If auto-steer is permanently on or the tire model allows you to steer regardless of whether you’ve locked up I would personally consider that a big step backwards.

  • Michael

    “Complete and utter fact.”

    It’s complete nonsense. The game isn’t even close enough to be wrong. Claiming NFS Shift is an advanced physics simulation of car dynamics is like trying to claim a spoon with a balloon tied to it is a human being.

    It doesn’t remotely begin to resemble realistic or accurate car dynamics or physics.

    You’re fruity loops and completely delusional if you think otherwise. Perhaps you should play the game?

  • Valves Of Houston

    I can only imagine how magnificent that comment would have been if you had read either the poster’s username or the post itself.  As it stands it’s an awesome signpost that you don’t actually know what a game engine is.  That’s awesome.