Need For Speed Most Wanted Interview: Under the Hood of the PS Vita Version

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Need For Speed Most Wanted Interview: Under the Hood of the PS Vita Version

NFSMW lead image

Next week sees the keenly anticipated release of Need for Speed Most Wanted, the latest release from Criterion Games – the legendary UK racing specialist behind the Burnout series and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, the phenomenal 2010 entry in EA’s long-running street racing franchise.

That the PlayStation 3 version is very, very good should come as no surprise, but somewhat more unexpected is the amount of care the studio has lavished on replicating the experience on PlayStation Vita. Producer Matt Webster and his team have squeezed almost the entire experience onto the handheld, and even found room for a little bit of extra content exclusive to the system.

We sat down with Matt earlier this week to find out exactly how Criterion has pulled it off.

PlayStation.Blog: What was your goal when you first started developing the PS Vita version of Most Wanted?
Matt Webster, Producer at Criterion Games: It was to make the same game – that was the goal. As much as we possibly could, we wanted to deliver all the great things about the console version of the game: an open world, freedom, choice, variety, highly connected. All those principles looked like they were achievable on the machine, so that was what we set out to do.

PSB: What were the main challenges you met during development?
MW: You just run across performance challenges. Some of those are fundamental, which you learn to overcome as development progresses, and others you have to make some compromises.


PSB: What kind of compromises are we talking about exactly?
MW: It is exactly the same game [as the PlayStation 3 version] apart from traffic density and number of players online. But I think that the asynchronous play is actually going to be more important.

PSB: How exactly does that work?

“I can push up my Speed Point level on PS3 multiplayer when I’m mobile with PS Vita, and vice versa.”

MW: So, if you play the single-player game, and then play muliplayer, any Speed Points you earn in SP also drive your MP progression, and that’s true when you play the game on PS Vita too. Anything you earn on PS Vita carries across to the console version. It’s a unified scoring system.

Everything you do in the game earns Speed Points. Speed Points determine your position on the Most Wanted list. Am I outscoring my friends; have I reached the necessary score threshold to take on one of the Most Wanted drivers in the solo game; what speed level am I at in MP; what have I unlocked, and so on. I can push up my Speed Point level on PS3 multiplayer when I’m mobile with PS Vita, and vice versa.

PSB: The easy option would have been to contract an external developer to work on the Vita version but you decided to keep it in-house. Why?
MW: It was something we wanted to do. It looked like the machine was going to be capable of delivering what we wanted to do. And the way that we work is very iterative – build, play, change, build, play, change – that’s how we work. When you go external it generally only works when you’ve got a finished game, otherwise there are too many moving parts.

So, it looked like something we’d be able to do and we were going to be able to push ourselves in some new directions. It was difficult, but we’re not ones to shy away from a challenge.


PSB: Do you think a massive open world racing game like Most Wanted is a good fit for a portable gaming device?
MW: I do. The game is about freedom and choice. We have a saying – ‘not playing the game is the game’. What that means is that not playing the authored experience that most games deliver for you actually is very important and a really significant part of the game.

The way that these devices are used – they’re picked up, they have some play, and they’re put down. It might be high frequency play, but not necessarily high amplitude, where I’m spending long sessions with it. Our game can work in either of those scenarios. I think the asynchronous part of it is going to be really powerful on that device – do something, have Autolog pick it up, and send it back.

“We have a saying – ‘not playing the game is the game’.”

I think it will turn out to be something that PS Vita owners didn’t realize was possible on that machine – it is quite a significant achievement to do an open world game to the level of quality that we’ve managed. And then to have something as highly connected as it is – that’s something fresh and new. I think it will find a really good home on PS Vita.

PSB: What kind of exclusive PS Vita content have you included?
MW: There are some exclusive PS Vita races and events in there for players to discover. It’s another way for players to earn exclusive SP – it’s an extra reward for having the game on multiple devices and it allows us to do something specifically tuned to that device.

PSB: Have you used the PS Vita’s unique features in any way?
MW: We’ll use the touch screen for changing music tracks and in some parts of the interface but the rest of it… you have to use those things where they serve a purpose, otherwise they’re just a gimmick. You run the risk of it not being taken seriously. We’ll absolutely use it when it makes sense to use it.

PSB: Presumably you’ll be supporting the PS3 version post launch with DLC. Will that also apply to the PS Vita version?
MW: Well, we’ll clarify that when the time comes.

Comments are closed.


  • also keep up the great work Criterion, you always overly impress… sorry for multi-post.

  • Criterion, please release some footage of NFS Most Wanted on Vita. I really like to how well it runs on the system with my own eyes.

  • Hey, whatyaknow? No response again….

  • Yeah, like saying “I won’t be getting both versions” matters. Cross buy would be giving them no benefit as a publisher unless Sony paid them to do it. Cross buy only makes sense for digital games, and it only helps push Vita. Which is SONY’s job to do, 3rd parties are no obligated to make sacrifices to push Sony’s hardware.

    Getting a version FREE is not increasing sales either. Lawdy people.

  • @54 That’s true. But at the same time if they are only going to sell me one version of the game do you think they would prefer to sell me the $60 PS3 version (that happens to come with an added incentive to get a download of the Vita version) or the $40 version?

    An alternative way of looking at it is to consider it as if they are selling me the Vita version for $40 plus another $20 for the DLC to play the PS3 version. Either way, it is plausible that by adding cross buy they will be enticing people to get the higher priced item plus the good will of the customer.

    I imagine the biggest concern will be those who buy the PS3 version just to get the free download and then immediately sell the physical copy to reduce their out of pocket expenses. Finding some way around that will make cross buy a more viable option for 3rd party developers, but as it is I can see why more developers don’t do it–even though as a customer I wish they would.

  • So is it coming out next week cuz I heard rumors that the reason they are not putting out gameplay is because it will be coming out next year?

  • @55: It’s still giving away a free version.

    And people don’t always value the cheaper version. Some people hate portables. Some people value portability. Some value the ‘big screen’. Some people will want to buy it twice to have both benefits. There are people that do this.

    Giving it away free doesn’t benefit, or hurt them. People have their idea of which version they want more. Just because it’s cheaper, doesn’t mean people will pick the Vita version over the PS3 version if they have to pick one or the other. And there are those who could care less about the game on Vita.

    I would still buy the Vita version even with the free game with the PS3 version. I don’t want to play it on my PS3. I didn’t even have interest in the game before I knew about the Vita version being done inhouse. I won’t pay $20 extra just to get the version I want, along with a version I don’t give a crap about.

    It’s not black and white.

  • No one wants to buy crappy nfs games any more, please stop making them.

    I’ll stick with Grand Turismo 5 which is the best racing game out.

    oh, and EA please drop your license with Porsche.

    Thank you.

  • I am super excited bout this. The current racing games on the vita dont cut it for me and i think by what videos i have seen of this that people recorded and put on youtube this should and will hold me over till gt vita is released. Once i heard bout this game i went and preordered it. I dunno bout the rest of you but i cant wait to be onle with my friends doing some fun stuff for my youtube viewers. Right now im stuck on zero escape though lol

    Sent from my PS Vita

  • Anyone know is the vita version playable online? thats all i want

  • (1/2) I’ll have to try it myself or at least say some gameplay videos, but I have to admit I’m impressed with Criterion.
    ‘It was difficult, but we’re not ones to shy away from a challenge.’

    I wish more teams would do it that way, specifically for the Vita. The thing is I like when the core teams vision is fulfilled and I get a game that is exactly what I get on the PS3 (or at least a new IP for the vita instead of a side story or project). If you hand it off to another team I feel you lose some of that creative vision.

  • (2/2) The Bioshock for the Vita, I wish I were the full Bioshock Infinite experience… but I’m not expecting to get that.
    The recent Call of Duty videos I’ve seen for the Vita… It isn’t Black Ops 2 which is majorly disappointing because I feel that if they did what Criterion did it would’ve made for an awesome game, especially leveling and gaining experience while on the go (and it being pushed to the ps3 version). I’m not even the biggest Call of Duty fan, but I’d love a good feeling shooter on the Vita. That itch has yet to be scratched.
    The Assassin’s Creed for the Vita is another one. I wish I could just play Assassin’s Creed III on the go and not a side/parallel story.

    Not trying to be completely off topic~ Just wish there was more of THIS, Criterion-type drive to get a good experience. I bought my Vita on launch week and I’m still waiting for more of it.

  • @cjmc18 Yes it is, although I believe this version has 4 players online at one time while the PS3 allows up to 8.

  • There is absolutely no reason for this to NOT be a cross buy, other then greed that is. I am sure sony did their part trying to get this together but seriously, not good enough on EA’s behalf. 2 birds with one stone and we are the birds…

  • Been confirmed, someone was lazy as expected in copy/pasting the terms they used. No cross-buy as per Morgan Haro confirmed over Twitter. Guess there’s another person I should be following.

    It really didn’t make sense.

  • I wish they’d release Vita-specific footage, or more screenshots…or just anything at all! Many websites that run previews aren’t even mentioning the Vita version. Unless you’re looking for info specifically about this version of the game, you wouldn’t know it exists.

    You guys are one of the few spreading the word about the Vita version of NFS. I hope more follow suit, because the marketing and the majority of website previews are sadly ignoring this game’s Vita version :/

  • I am absolutely getting this game on my Vita later next month.
    But seriously Criterion the game is getting released, in what, 2 days ? And we still haven’t seen a single official gameplay video ?, what logic is this ?

  • Cross Buy Is an awesome Idea. But In this case, if your not going to do Cross-Buy, then EA should offer a bundle price, lets say, $80 for both the ps3 & Vita Digital purchase. I think Im still going to go with the Vita version though. I will decide on tuesday.

  • I like the idea behind Cross-Buy. I think it works well with titles like “Sound Shapes”. However, I see that as more of a PSN title and, not a full-blown release title. Personally, I don’t expect to see top tier titles to have Cross-Buy.

    What I would expect though, is for big budget releases to have some sort of bundle. Personally, I think the Vita versions of these types of games would be PERFECT as an addition to a game’s “Collector’s Edition”. You know, those things we’ve been willing to pay $10-$30 bucks more for metal case, art book, or the occasional statue. How about actually making a “Collector’s Edition” something worth investing in and, include the Vita version.

  • Iblike all the ideas thqt arefloating around with respect to there not being any cross buy, but i am sure ea wont budge. When asked about future dlc there is no defnitive aanswer. Its an attitude as if they want to see if the market is good enough first. I mean heaven forbid they make a good product they can stand behind

  • this will have the cross buy and cross play program if you buy it on psn it will be on both systems if you buy the limited editon for the ps3 you will get a dlc code to download it on the vita plus many other content

  • Footage of the Vita version here:

    One thing to note is that I’m 90% Vita can do way better than this. The distinct lack of traffic or civilian cars makes the city & environment look really lifeless & empty at times all throughout the vid.. graphics don’t look half as good as the PS3 version either.. but still, looks to be fun.

  • Um, about my previous comment about the Vita version supposedly having no traffic at all apart from a car passing by every so often.

    It turns out that the Vita version does actually have a lot of traffic as can be seen in this gameplay vid posted on YouTube recently.. the city & it’s environment feels alive, basically the same as the console version.

    So, I have no idea why there was no traffic in that other guy’s vid.. maybe it’s a little glitch/bug that needs fixing. I’m very pleased about this tbh :)

  • is it gonna be on the ps store or not? i added money to my wallet to buy it before confirming and im gonna be REALLY pissed when the store updates and its not there?

  • Ok first of all id like to say i like this game but don’t love this game. Its just not what most wanted was, and also the vita version says it can take auto log pictures for billboards, but i have yet been asked to take a picture when i destroyed everyone’s record on one. i f some one knows any info on this please send me a message cause im thinking of returning the ps3 version very soon,but ganna keep the vita version. towtruck09 = psn tag

  • Guess what fellaz.!They have cross play. I got the ps3 version and just copped the vita version. Everything i did on the ps3 is on the vita version after the first race to get nitros!! Trust me I even got my speed points. Psn id:I-am-lefty holla at me and yaw welcome! Im hype right now.

  • To get face on billboard, you have to go to sign up for ORIGIN, uplaod your face on its profile. Then go to log in with your ORIGIN sign in, Click the autolog tab, then upload your image for that profile as well. After that, when you connect your origin account in the need for speed game settings menu, your all set.

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