During my time standing in the massive lines that made up this year’s EA Play event in Hollywood, I had a chance to speak to Johan Peitz about Ghost Games’ upcoming title Need for Speed Payback. Amidst the heat of the day and the thumping music, we had a chance to talk briefly about the upcoming game. This is what he had to say about Need for Speed Payback.
Jordan: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me! Go ahead and introduce yourself to everyone.
Johan: Hello, I’m Johan Peitz.
And what’s your role on the Development of Need for Speed Payback?
I am one of the producer in the production team.
And how long have you worked for EA doing Need for Speed?
I actually joined quite recently. So I’ve only been at the company for nine months. I ran my own gaming company before that, and then I switched to EA.
Was there something alluring about EA, or were you just excited to work on something like Need for Speed?
I had recently sold that company that I worked for so I was looking for a new and excited experience really.
Were there anything lessons that you’ve learned in past development or thing that you and your team were trying to avoid in terms of the gameplay that helped pave the way for you to make the game you want to hand to fans of the series?
Not really, we’re just trying to keep to our brand standards, right? We have awesome racing, we have awesome customization, and now we’re also adding a much thicker story layer on top of it with these heist missions that are dispersed throughout the single player campaign.
In terms of Need for Speed, the game feel really good. In the past a lot of player, myself included, haven’t felt the games handled as smooth as earlier games in the series, or other racing games recently. Has your team put more emphasis in making it feel a little easier to control by leaning away from being realistic and leaning more towards being an action oriented racing game?
For this title we’re really looking to nail action driving, edge of your seat fantasy, and we’re constantly working with fans so we’re quite attuned with what they need and want from the game. And those are the thing that we are putting into this game to make it as good as we possibly can.
Were there things that were important to you to keep in a Need for Speed game?
For this title specifically, we went for a full customization of cars. I mean, we’ve been adding that before and we’re taking that even wider. You can find derelict cars out in the desert and build them up from scrap to stock, even to a super cars that have a variety of configurations which look really distinct and awesome and unique for every player.
Ballpark, how many derelict cars are out there do you think?
More than last time! *Laughter* We’re going to come out with details on the actual numbers as we close in on Gamescom.
So, story especially, it seems like this is really kind of the first big dive into story for the series. What other kinds of mediums pushed you to think about a story in a different way, inspired the story you wrote, things like that?
Where should I start? I think it’s true to Need For Speed‘s roots actually with this really blockbuster action that we haven’t had before in the series – like in The Run for instance being also very narrative driven. This time we’re really taking the action racing and putting that through a Hollywood lens. So yeah, most other racing games go towards sim-like experiences but we want this to be your action fantasy, put the player as the hero in the experience, and really give them a really good action driving experience.
And it seems a little more loaded with cut-scene compared to what we’ve seen in the past. Are the cut-scenes more front-and-center compared to games in the past?
What we’re doing in the blockbuster missions, that will be more narrative heavy, where we’re really fusing three character together and making them really become a family and see how they interact with each other. They are the blockbuster missions that are more of the traditional racing that we have been doing for the last twenty five years or so.
So what can you tell me about the story? It looks like we have a couple of different playable characters going after a group called ‘The House’. Can you go into more detail?
So it’s called ‘Payback’, so it’s obviously a story about revenge. There’s going to be a set up for that in the game so you’ll know what’s going on. Basically our three characters – Mack, Tyler, and Jess – they’ve been burned by ‘The House’ and now they want revenge. And they do that by climbing through a series of racing events.
So that’s Need for Speed Payback. When does it release?
On November the 10th, so it’s should be all good for Christmas.
Seriously! Yeah the game looks great and plays like a dream. So we’re looking at PlayStation 4, Xbox One and One X, and PC, right?
Yeah, so we’re supporting PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. And we also plan to support Xbox One X and PlayStation  Pro.
To throw the question out that I’m sure you get a lot: any plans on bring it to the Switch?
I mean, we love the Switch, right? It’s a really cool thing. But it’s not something that we’re looking into right now, but definitely if it looks like it’s possible, then we’d go that route.
There you have it, that’s Need for Speed Payback! Expect it to hit store shelves and gaming marketplaces on November 10th.
To learn more about how Need for Speed Payback plays and look, check out my impressions from my time with the game during EA Play.