Need For Speed (Video Game Series)

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Genre Driving/Racing
Gamming Style Single player, Multiplayer
Platform PlayStation, Xbox, PC
Release Date November, 2015 (Need for Speed) [1]
Developer EA (1994-Present)
Criterion Games (2010-Present)
Ghost Games (2013-Present)
Publisher Electronic Arts

Need For Speed is a racing video game franchise created by Electronic Arts across platforms like the Playstation, Xbox, and PC. Most commonly referred to as "NFS", Need For Speed has sold over 150 million copies since its release in 1993, making it the best selling driving game in the world. [2] Game play allows players to choose their own car from a wide variety of types and brands including Ford, Lamborghini, Nissan, Chevrolet, Porsche, and Ferrari among many others. After selecting a car, players can then customize paint colors, body parts, and engine components to their liking, giving it its own unique look and driving style. Players may then take their customized cars and compete in a number of different types of races against computers or other players to gain access to more cars and customization options as well as in game currency to purchase them.


  • The first title in this series, released in 1994 for the 3DO game console was called The Need For Speed.
  • While police chases have always been a prominent aspect of Need For Speed, Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit was the first game in the series to allow players to play as both police and racers. Being as this title was made for PC, the first console title to have a similar feature was Need For Speed: High Stakes, released a year later. [3]
  • The original Need For Speed: Most Wanted released in 2005 is the series' best selling title with over 16 million copies sold. [4]
  • Need For Speed: Underground was the title that shifted game play from more formal point to point racing on tracks to street style racing and tuner culture. [5]
  • Need For Speed: Underground 2 was the first title to feature free roam, allowing players to drive around the game map at their leisure without racing or story continuation. This feature has been prevalent in most titles that have followed. [5]


All games in the Need for Speed series follow a similar style of gameplay. Players control a car with the main objective of winning races against other players. In some iterations of Need for Speed, players are able to drive freely in an open world, as well as trigger police pursuits.

Races in Need for Speed take various forms, including circuit, sprint, drag, and drift. Circuit races involve lapping around a set path multiple times, sprint races require players to race from one point to another, drag races involve a mostly straight track, and drift races have the player to accumulate the most points of all racers by drifting their car around a track. [6]

Need for Speed features licensed cars from various manufactures. In most Need for Speed titles, players are able to buy and customize cars. Cars in various titles, such as Need for Speed: Carbon have been classified in various groups, including tuner, muscle, and exotic. Tuner cars primarily offer higher levels of customization in addition to greater handling ability, muscle cars offer higher performance in factors such as acceleration, and exotic cars feature a balance of handling, acceleration, and top speed.

Release Dates
1994 The Need For Speed
1997 Need For Speed II
1998 Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit
1999 Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit
2000 Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed
2002 Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
2003 Need For Speed: Underground
2004 Need For Speed: Underground 2
2005 Need For Speed: Most Wanted
2006 Need For Speed: Carbon
2007 Need For Speed: Pro Street
2008 Need For Speed: Undercover
2009 Need For Speed: Shift
2009 Need For Speed: Nitro
2010 Need For Speed: World
2010 Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
2011 Need For Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed
2011 Need For Speed: The Run
2012 Need For Speed: Most Wanted
2013 Need For Speed: Rivals
2015 Need For Speed: No Limits
2015 Need For Speed

Ethical Implications

Unsafe Driving

Continental Tyre study results in percentages
Concerns that playing racing video games promotes unsafe or bad driving habits prompted a study done by Continental Tyres which polled 1,000 people between the ages of 17 and 39 who play racing video games and 1,000 people in the same age group who do not play racing video games to see if racing games actually have effects on driving habits. The study found that people who play racing video games, such as Need For Speed, are more likely to get into car accidents, get pulled over, and take more risks on the road. However, the study also found that people who play racing games require less attempts to pass their driving test, taking, on average, two tries compared to three by non-players. [7]

One of the unsafe methods practiced in this game is drifting [8]. This involves cars moving at high velocities, and locking up the brakes of the car, causing the car to slide on the pavement. This is dangerous because essentially, the driver has no control. If the car is going at a high rate of speed and catches the pavement in an unfavorable fashion, it can cause the car to flip and result in injury or even death of the driver. In a recent case, 90 drivers were arrested in Saudi Arabia [9] because of drifting in public streets, which was putting citizens in danger of high speed cars. Games like Need for Speed create an unrealsitic expectation of drifting, because the video game does not do justice the actual manuevering techniques needed to dirft in real life. This is one of the many examples of ethical implications needing consideration from the Need for Speed game series.

Sexualization of Women

Title screen of NFS Underground 2, featuring actress Brooke Burke
Many titles in the Need For Speed series feature female protagonists in the storyline, which is rare among video games, most often these women are sexualized in some manner. The women wear revealing clothing or talk in a sexualized manner to the player as an attempt by the game company to appeal to male teenagers, the majority of their player base. This skewed gender norm can also be seen during gameplay in some introduction screens, as well as at the start of racing events where a scantily clad woman will give a countdown and wave a flag to signal players to go. Some actresses that have been featured in lead roles in the Need For Speed series include Christina Wolfe, Josie Maran, and Brooke Burke Video game companies have been criticized for this representation of women. 47% of middle school boys and 61% of high school boys agreed that these female characters are treated too much as sex objects in the games.

Song Lyrics

Many songs in the Need For Speed series contain lyrics that are considered offensive or inappropriate for younger children. Songs include swear words, suggestive phrases, or explicit descriptions of sexual actions. While lyrics are muted out of the song in the games, players still have the opportunity to look the songs up online. This could potentially expose younger players to song lyrics that are not appropriate for them. Get Low by Lil Jon and Love Me or Hate Me by Lady Sovereign are two examples of songs containing lyrics that had to be muted in game.


  1. Various. "Need for Speed (2015 Video Game)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Mar. 2016. Web.
  2. Quinn Gammon. "The 10 Best Selling Video Game Franchises Of All Time - Overmental." Overmental. 15 Apr. 2015. Web.
  3. Various. "Police." Need for Speed Wiki. Web.
  4. Thorson, Tor. "Need for Speed Series Sells 100M, Shift Moves 309K." GameSpot. 21 Oct. 2009. Web.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Zakes, Robert. "15 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Need For Speed’." RantGamer. Web.
  6. Need for Speed: Underground 2
  7. N/A. "Do Racing Games Negatively Affect Driving Habits? | VirtualR - Sim Racing News." VirtualR Sim Racing News. 02 Feb. 2011. Web.