GameSentral Rewind #031

Editor’s Note: This is the GameSentral Rewind, a daily recap of the top gaming headlines.

Satoru Iwata dead at 55

Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president and CEO, has died at the age of 55.

“Nintendo deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.”

-Nintendo, in a statement

As president, Iwata oversaw the introduction of the Wii and the Nintendo DS line of handhelds.

Bungie hires Destiny subreddit creator as newest community manager

Destiny Timekeeper

Destiny developer Bungie has brought Chris “Cozmo23” Shannon on as its newest community manager, according to the two. Shannon will be working with the existing community team, which includes community managers Eric “Urk” Osborne and David “DeeJ” Dague.

“I now aim to better serve the Destiny community alongside those who create and maintain the game. My job is to be your voice, or at the very least your interpreter, filtering the firehose of information on Bungie.net – as well as on social media.”

-Chris Shannon, Bungie community manager

“When it comes to acknowledging the important things you say or celebrating the awesome things you do, we barely scratch the surface.”

-David “DeeJ” Dague, Bungie community manager

StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void pre-orders go live

StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void

StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void, the third chapter in the StarCraft 2 trilogy, is now available for pre-order through Blizzard Entertainment’s Battle.net, according to the developer.

Blizzard is expecting the expansion to be released this winter, but pre-ordering the game gets you instant access to a playable prologue and the game’s multiplayer beta.

The three-chapter “Whispers of Oblivion” prologue focuses on the Dark Templar Zeratul and serves as a narrative bridge to Heart of the Swarm, the previous game.

Legacy of the Void will include a new single-player campaign featuring the Protoss, and the new Archon Mode multiplayer mode – where two players control a single base – and objective-based co-op mode Allied Commanders.

The game is available now for $39.99 on its own, but the Irvine, PA-based company is also selling a digital deluxe edition for $59.99 with the base expansion, various StarCraft 2 skins, and digital goods for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, and Heroes of the Storm. You can also purchase the StarCraft 2 complete edition, which includes all three expansions to the base game, for $59.99, with a deluxe edition available for $99.99.

StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void is coming to Mac and Windows.

Destiny 2.0 adds weapon changes

Destiny Commendations

With Destiny’s 2.0 update, Bungie is making sweeping weapons changes that will impact cooperating multiplayer, PVP, and your Gjallarhorn’s effectiveness, according to company designer Jon Weisnewski.

The pending weapons tweaks slightly reduce the effectiveness of auto rifles and hand cannons, according to Weisnewski, and give a boost to scout rifles.

“Some of these changes are intended to make you feel better while killing with the weapon, and some are intended to make you feel better while being killed by the weapon.

“We want to preserve the functionality that makes Thorn such a compelling weapon, but its effective range and lethality are one of the most hotly contended items by the PVP player base.”

-Jon Weisnewski, Bungie designer

Thorn users will soon find the Mark of the Devourer damage over time perk to be less lethal in competitive multiplayer, according to Weisnewski.

Players that rely on Ice Breaker will need to wait a little longer for the sniper rifle to recharge, according to Weisnewski, as the time for a round to recharge is increasing from five to eight seconds.

The Gjallarhorn rocket launcher is getting its own downgrade, according to Weisnewski, as the Wolfpack Rounds tracking cluster missiles that spawn after detonation, will see their damage reduced.

“We definitely intended to have a high damage Heavy Weapon that was ideal for PvE destruction. What we did not intend, and what we unfortunately saw, was pick up Raid and Nightfall groups gating participation based on whether or not players had this weapon. Gjallarhorn was so strong that for many people it had become the only answer to getting through tough encounters, and therefore they were less willing to spend time with other players that didn’t have it.”

-Jon Weisnewski

The full post is worth a read, as it touches on other in-game exotics and weapon stats.

Destiny 2.0 is scheduled to hit alongside The Taken King expansion’s release on September 15th.

Judge approves $60M EA Sports, NCAA lawsuit settlement; players getting paid soon

U.S. District Court of California’s Northern District federal judge Claudia Wiken has approved the $60 million combined settlement in lawsuits against the NCAA, Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), and publisher Electronic Arts, according to court documents, paving the way for student athletes to get paid for appearances in college football and basketball video games.

The settlement covers two legal actions: EA and the CLC’s May 2014 $40 million agreement to players, and the NCAA’s June 2014 $20 million settlement.

“We are pleased with the decision from Judge Wilken to approve the $60 million combined settlement that will be distributed to hundreds of student-athletes. This landmark decision marks the first time that student-athletes will be paid for their likeness or image, and stands as a huge victory in the ongoing fight for student-athletes’ rights.”

-Steve Berman, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro managing partner

Pending a 30-day waiting period for objections to the approval, the settlement will take effect and players will start getting their share of the settlement as early as September, according to Berman. Individual payouts will vary on the nature of a student-athlete’s appearance in the game, and on the number of games the player appeared in between May 2003-September 2014.

The settlement fund’s administrating firm has received more than 20,000 claims so far, according to court documents. The firm reported a 19% claim rate for the EA settlement and 29% for the NCAA settlement. Claims can be filed here.

Shenmue 3 fundraising ends at $6.3M to become biggest video game Kickstarter

Shenmue 3

Shenmue 3 has ended its Kickstarter campaign by breaking a Kickstarter record, pulling in $6.3 million to become the New York-based company’s highest funded video game.

Yu Suzuki’s game has raised $6,333,296 from 69,320 backers, breaking the previous $5,545,991 record from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night backers.

Street Fighter 5 DLC characters can be earned for free through gameplay

Street Fighter 5

With next year’s Street Fighter 5, Capcom is changing the way updates and new characters are rolled out to the core game. Players will get balance updates and system adjustments for free, according to the Osaka, Japan-based company, and they won’t have to pay for post-launch characters. Instead, players can earn new characters by playing the game.

The game’s initial release is the only disc players will need to own for the game, according to Capcom associate director of battle design Peter “Combofiend” Rosas, in a PlayStation Blog post.

Street Fighter 5 will be the first iteration in the franchise where it is possible for dedicated players to earn all gameplay related content [like characters] for free, simply by playing the game. Long gone are the days of forced Super and Ultra upgrades! Enjoy free balance updates as soon as they become available, and find and choose the post-launch characters that you want to get.

“Looking back on the Street Fighter 4 series, we had always released bundles of content all at once, like with Super Street Fighter 4 and Ultra Street Fighter 4. While these one-time updates did revive interest in the series every few years, it was difficult to keep players engaged for long periods of time unless they were competitive.”

-Peter “Combofiend” Rosas, Capcom associate director of battle design

The game will feature two types of in-game currency: Fight Money, which players earn playing the game, and Zenny, which can be purchased with actual money. Both can be used to purchase new content.

Capcom will release Street Fighter 5 for PlayStation 4 and Windows next year. A beta version of the game for PS4, which can be accessed by pre-ordering the fighting game, will go live July 23.

Star Citizen FPS module should be out “3, 4, 5 weeks” from now: Roberts

star_citizen_14

Star Citizen’s backers can expect the long-awaited first-person shooter module in “three, four, maybe 5 weeks,” according to a Gamers Nexus interview with game director and founder of developer Cloud Imperium Games Chris Roberts.

“We made a conscious decision very early to do [the FPS module] correctly. The proper third-person animations drive the first person. It makes things harder because you can’t cheat in a lot of different ways.”

-Chris Roberts, Star Citizen director; Cloud Imperium Games founder

The module should be on its way around Gamescom, which begins August 5th in Cologne, Germany, according to Roberts.

Star Citizen is expected to launch in 2016.

Madden NFL 16 gets new 1TB Xbox One bundle with year of EA Access

Madden NFL 16 Xbox One bundle

If you’re an EA Sports fan and don’t have an Xbox One yet, Microsoft and Electronic Arts have a bundle for you: a $399 package that includes a downloadable copy of Madden NFL 16.

This is the console’s latest game bundle featuring a 1TB Xbone, joining Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Forza Motorsport 6 in the bundling treatment. Both of these packages have the same $399 price tag, but this bundle throws in a one-year subscription to EA Access, which comes at a $29.99 value.

EA Access is the Xbox One-exclusive subscription service that allows up to five days of early access to all EA Sports and some EA titles, a growing collection of free full-game downloads from The Vault, and a 10% discount on Xbox Games Store purchases of EA game digital content.

Madden NFL 16 launches August 25th on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, but will be playable starting August 20th with the aforementioned subscription service. The early full-game trials available with EA Access are limited to the 6-10 hour playtime over the five-day trial. The bundle’s Madden NFL 16 download code won’t go live until August 25th, so buyers won’t get full game access until then.

The Madden NFL 16 Xbox One bundle will be available starting August 18th, but pre-orders are now live from various retailers.

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