Editor’s Note: This is the GameSentral Rewind, a daily look at the top gaming headlines.
GTA 5’s Windows release marred by username problem
Some Windows owners attempting to enjoy Grand Theft Auto 5 can’t play the game, because of their Windows username.
Rockstar has alerted users that GTA 5 runs into trouble when it gets installed and run by PC owners whose Windows username includes characters outside standard letters and numbers.
“We have identified an issue where players with Windows usernames that include characters [outside of numbers and basic Roman alphabet letters] will likely run into difficulties when attempting to download, install, or play GTA 5. We are currently working on a fix for this issue.
“If you don’t want to wait for a fix, you need to create a new Administrator User Account for your Windows system that only includes letter A to Z, a to z or numbers 0-9 from the basic Roman alphabet. Please note that simply renaming your current User Account will not correct this issue. Once your new account is created (or if you already have an account that only uses these characters) we recommend you restart your PC and log in with that account before starting or continuing with the installation process.”
-Rockstar Games, in a support reply responding to complaints
EA shutting down four free-to-play PC games
Electronic Arts is ending development on four of its free-to-play Windows PC games and will soon shut them down entirely, according to the publisher.
The four games – Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Play4Free, FIFA World and Need for Speed World – are “not as popular as they once were,” according to Patrick Soderlund, EA Studios executive vice president.
EA will continue operating the four games for the next 90 days before it shuts down July 14. EA is now encouraging players to spend their remaining balances of the games’ respective microtransaction currencies, and has disables further purchases of in-game funds.
“These were pioneering experiences, and we’re humbled that, over the years, so many of you joined us to enjoy the games and the community. While we say farewell to these free-to-play titles in the next few months, we are always exploring new concepts and ways to bring great games to more players around the world.”
-Patrick Soderlund, EA Studios executive vice president
World of Warcraft’s Timewalking brings back old-school dungeons for mega loot
World of Warcraft’s upcoming Timewalking feature will resurrect old-school dungeons for weekend excursions and upgraded loot, according to a Battle.net post.
Patch 6.2, which developer Blizzard Entertainment is now testing, will introduce Timewalking events, where you’ll “queue up for a randomly selected old-school dungeon with a new sort of ‘heroic’ difficulty.” When you Timewalk these dungeons, your character’s power and gear get scaled down to a fraction of what they normally are.
As compensation for the difficulty, the developer will also scale the loot in each dungeon up “to an item level appropriate for use at your level.”
In World of Warcraft’s public test realm, Blizzard will test the Arcatraz, Black Morass, Mana-Tombs, Shattered Halls, Slave Pens, Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom, Gundrak, Halls of Lightning, Nexus and Utgarde Pinnacle dungeons.
Those who wish to take part in testing need to download the PTR client and copy their characters to it.
“Timewalking will be available to characters who are level 71 and higher for Burning Crusade content, and level 81 and up for Wrath of the Lich King dungeons. It will open up only during certain three-day-long weekend holidays. While Timewalking, your power will be adjusted down to the level of the Heroic dungeon, but you’ll retain all of your skills and talents. We will also be testing additional rewards, such as a level 10 quest that rewards one Seal of Tempered Fate per weekend, so keep an eye on the in-game calendar.”
-Blizzard Entertainment, in a blog post announcing the patch
Valve adds two-factor login authentication to Steam mobile app
Valve has updated Steam’s Android and iOS apps to add two-factor authentication to Steam, giving users an extra layer of security for their accounts.
The Steam Guard mobile authenticator is going into limited beta in the mobile apps for Steam, according to Valve. In addition to two-factor authentication, the mobile authenticator will give “additional ways to protect and recover your account.”
Players who opt to use the authenticator will need to input a code sent to their mobile device every time they log in to Steam.
Valve will select a few participants in the beta, test the app, then expand the number of participants and continue testing.
The Steam Mobile Android app got updated today with “new security features and some bug fixes” on the Google Play store.
2K Australia shutting down
2K Australia is closing its doors, with all employees either losing their jobs or being reassigned, according to a representative with parent company 2K Games.
The studio most recently developed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and got founded in 2000 as Irrational Games Australia in Canberra, Australia, a subsidiary of Irrational Games, before 2K acquired them in 2006.
In addition to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, 2K Australia searched as a co-developer in BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite, and contributed to games like Tribes: Vengeance and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
Apple Watch game blitz
Several more games are coming to the Apple Watch, which launches later this month.
Bossa Studios’ Spy_Watch
UK developer Bossa Studios is planning to release Spy_Watch¸ which places you as head of a spy agency with a mission to train a spy, send it on operations and rebuild your agency’s former glory.
Gameplay centers around real-time notifications between you and your agency in the field that get sent and delivered on the Apple Watch’s interface, according to the press release. Completing a mission earns you money, which can then be used to improve your spy’s abilities.
“We are now all used to communicating via short text-based messages and we felt this would be a really interesting way to tell an interactive story. Thanks to the Apple Watch, we are now able to bring the thrill of espionage to your wrist, just like one of James Bond’s infamous gadgets.”
-Imre Jele, Bossa Studios co-founder
Eyes Wide Games’ Watch this Homerun
Eyes Wide Games wants to compact the entire baseball experience to a mobile game you play on your wrist with Watch this Homerun.
“We’ve seen where Apple Watch is going, and it’s clear that giving sports fans and gamers fast and easy ways to plug into their favorite pastimes anytime will be a defining feature of the platform. With Watch This Homerun, we’re distilling the complete baseball experience down to its greatest hits in a form players can enjoy in just 10-15 seconds on the go.”
-Stephen Griffin, Eyes Wide Games CEO
Players will try to hit in-game pitches by tapping their watch fact. The game’s iPhone companion app will track competitive leaderboards, achievements, and personal stats.
Eyes Wide is also planning more one-touch games based on soccer, football and basketball that can get enjoyed in 10-15 second bursts.
Right Pedal’s Snappy Word
Australian developer Right Pedal is working on Snappy Word, where four random letters appear on watch face tiles and players tap them to create words. The goal is to see how many words you can create in 30 seconds. The game includes real-time player-versus-player mode, the ability to compete against friends or others using Game Center, leaderboards and a dictionary featuring over 3,900 words.
Snappy Word can also be played on traditional iOS devices.
“With the rumors of an Apple Watch swirling around I knew this was a device I wanted to make games for. So I learnt Swift and built a list of game ideas that could work on the Watch. When the Watch was officially announced and the WatchKit SDK was released I sat down and worked through which ideas could work with the initial SDK.
“The four button layout lent itself perfectly to the idea of making four letter words as rapidly as you can. I built a quick prototype at the end of January 2015 on the Watch and it was fun to play. I used my existing word lists from my Brainiversity word games, so the game came together very fast.
“While waiting for the announcement of when the Apple Watch would come out I built in real time multiplayer game play and added statistics. The versus mode lets you complete in real time against friends and other Game Center players from around the world.”
-John Passfield, Right Pedal program manager
March sales: Sony wins overall, Nintendo makes big gains
Video game hardware sales decreased nine percent last month, according to NPD Group data, which tracked video game sales for the five-week period from March 1st-April 4th, 2015, but sales of most current-gen hardware continue to outpace their predecessors.
“This is the seventeenth month of sales for the Xbox One and PS4, whose combined cumulative hardware sales are over 50 percent higher than the combined seventeen-month cumulative sales totals for the Xbox 360 and PS3.”
-Liam Callahan of the NPD Group
Nintendo hardware sales increased nearly 60 percent year-over-year. Nintendo 3DS family hardware sales, which encompass the Nintendo 3DS, the recently released new Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo 2DS, increased nearly 80 percent when compared to the first three months of 2014.
“The new Nintendo 3DS XL system continues to inject growth into Nintendo’s handheld business, and the momentum created for Wii U in 2014 has carried over into 2015. Take these two elements, add in fun, exclusive titles starring some of the biggest names in gaming, and overall sales of Nintendo hardware systems so far in 2015 have increased by nearly 60 percent over sales during the same time frame in 2014.”
– Nintendo, in a statement
Sony’s PlayStation 4 continued its sales lead in March.
Sony’s lead accounts for hardware and software sales, and got attributed to the PlayStation Store’s success in March to Bloodborne and Battlefield Hardline.
Since the release of both consoles in November 2013, the PS4 has largely outsold the Xbox One, according to NPD. Xbox One outsold the PS4 in December 2013 and again in November and December 2014.
Microsoft confirms Phil Harrison’s departure
Xbox executive Phil Harrison has left Microsoft.
“Following a successful tenure as Corporate Vice President in Xbox in Europe, Phil Harrison has chosen to pursue business interests outside of Microsoft.
“Phil has been a distinguished leader for our European Xbox team – overseeing production at our award-winning European studios and making a substantial contribution to the Xbox business globally. I want to thank Phil for his creativity and leadership over the past three years. Phil is a great friend of mine and I wish him the very best with his future endeavors.”
– Phil Spencer, Xbox head