The very first Need for Speed game was released in 1994 for the 3DO game console and completely changed gamers' expectations for racing games thanks to its impressive visuals and licensed cars. Since then, there have been a further 14 iterations of the franchise across 14 different game platforms which all combined have now sold a staggering 100 million units. This figure is based on internal EA data, not independently audited sales data.
According to a statement from Electronic Arts today, the Need for Speed franchise has generated over US$2.7 billion in revenue for the gaming giant, and has sold 6.2 million more individual units than the auto industry has sold cars. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics states that 93.8 million cars have been sold since 1994. Admittedly there's a marked difference in unit costs there, but still... it's an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
After some concerns last year that the franchise was becoming stale, it bounced back with the very well-received Need for Speed: Shift earlier this year, and the imminent Nintendo Wii and DS game Need for Speed: Nitro has been getting some very positive buzz.
The next Need for Speed game, the PC-based online title Need for Speed: World Online will begin Beta testing in Taiwan this winter, and will see a worldwide rollout during the fall of next year.