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Nintendo, We Need Voice Chat

by Justin Berube - June 26, 2015, 9:07 am EDT
Total comments: 16

Splatoon and Zelda: Tri Force Heroes are just the start. Will we have to suffer without voice chat forever?

Nintendo has been playing around with online voice chat in their games for over a decade now. We’ve seen some Nintendo published titles take advantage of the popular online feature in better ways than others, but the support overall has left players wishing for more. Now, with Nintendo making more online focused games than ever, the company seems to be simply ignoring online voice chat when they need it most.

Now I know someone is going to jump on me right here and claim that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features online voice chat. Yes, it does, but it’s executed in an awful manner. First, the quality of the voice chat in Smash Bros. is very poor. Secondly, you can only communicate with your friends between matches, which I find rather unfortunate. For the most part the poor voice chat in Smash Bros. is manageable, but Nintendo’s newest online game has bigger issues.

Splatoon is Nintendo’s first game that relies heavily on online co-operative gameplay. The problem here is that there is no good way to communicate with your teammates at all. This causes everyone to go do their own thing and just hope for the best. At the time of this writing there isn’t any way to reliably team up with friends, but this is a feature that is being added to the game in August. When that does happen the experience will be hurt because teams won’t be able to talk to one another. This is a bigger deal than some may think since team games on competitors platforms often offer some way to verbally communicate with one another without having to boot Skype up on another device.

At E3 last week Nintendo revealed they are working on two games that offer ways to play the main campaign of each title co-operatively with friends over the Internet. The first of these titles is Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and it has already been confirmed that the game will not offer online voice chat. This new multiplayer Zelda title is great in theory, but the lack of verbal communication is going to be a major flaw. I managed to play this game at E3 last week and the first session I had was a complete disaster and I was able to talk to the people I was playing with since they were standing right next to me. Some players had no idea what they were doing, and even with verbal communication I couldn’t help them because they refused to listen. If this doesn’t work with people, how does anyone expect those lame icons on the touch screen to give any kind of meaningful support?

Luckily the other two times I played Zelda: Tri Force Heroes I was able to get a better group of players. What I discovered was that it takes constant verbal communication to get through the mini-dungeons because the title really takes a great deal of coordination to pull things off. It’s a lot more involved than any of the Four Swords games. I really don’t know how anyone is supposed to easily work together without the ability to speak in this game. I can tell you right now that the lack of voice chat going to greatly frustrate many people to the point of them just playing through this game solo, which almost defeats the purpose of the title entirely.

The second game Nintendo announced that will have a multiplayer campaign mode is Metroid Prime: Federation Force. As far as I know, Nintendo hasn’t yet confirmed or denied if this game will feature online voice chat. But as a fan of Nintendo’s games, and looking at this marvelous track record, what am I supposed to think? If I had to place money on it I’d say that Federation Force won’t have online voice chat, but again this is only my assumption based on how Nintendo is handling the feature in other games. If Federation Force doesn’t support the voice chat the game is going to be a lot worse regardless of how well it’s built. Just watch the Treehouse Live segments to see how important communicating in this game is. It’s a must have feature.

As a fan of Nintendo’s games I’m really getting fed up with the way Nintendo is handling online voice chat. Online games are clearly something the company is starting to invest a lot more in, but the fact that they won’t give us a way to speak is going to hold these titles back and make Nintendo look like they are living in the dark ages compared to their competitors. I know Nintendo is protective of children that use their products, but parental controls could make it so that children can’t communicate online. The bottom line is that Nintendo’s online games could offer a better online experience if they gave players a way to verbally communicate. Gamers playing these online Nintendo titles shouldn't have to jump through hoops and boot up Skype on separate devices in order to have a truly better gaming experience. Please, just let us speak.



Evan_BJune 26, 2015

I don't feel the need to talk to people in Splatoon, Smash Bros, and I probably will play Zelda with my friends close by.

So, I guess I don't care.

AdrockJune 26, 2015

I strongly prefer local multiplayer, but I still don't think voice chat should be an optional feature in this day and age. There absolutely are games that can and do benefit from it. If someone doesn't or won't use it, that's a decision that should be left up to the person playing the game. They can turn turn it off if they want; Nintendo shouldn't turn it off for them by just not having it because "people are mean sometimes" or some other such weird and excuse.

xcwarriorJune 26, 2015

Love Nintendo, but yes, we need voice chat. I actually forgot Smash had VC until you mentioned about it. Get with the times. It's called freedom of speech. We want to talk. Just ban the a**hats.

Ian SaneJune 26, 2015

It is completely asinine that Nintendo suddenly goes anti-voicechat just as they start cranking out online co-op games.  If you just said that some videogame company was doing this and didn't specify I would ASSUME you're talking about Nintendo.  Such is their reputation.  The only way to guess what Nintendo will do is to think of what any company with even the slightest idea of what they're doing would do and do the exact opposite.

To me this is a simple decision.  Voicechat is the industry standard so you do it unless you honestly have come up with something better.  Not DIFFERENT but BETTER.  Different don't mean shit.  That's just making people jump through hoops for no reason.  And in this case Nintendo is just not doing it at all.  This kind of bullshit is why Nintendo's console reputation is in the shitter.  They always are doing things a little wrong or a little off and who has patience for that shit?  Note the only time since the N64 that this bullshit was tolerated was when they suddenly attracted a whole new audience that isn't familiar with industry conventions.  Now that that audience is gone and Nintendo can only rely on the traditional gaming audience that is well aware of what the standards of the industry are they're back in the shitter.

Now when Nintendo does something new and different and it pays off it is usually awesome.  They've gotten far by being creative and innovative.  The success they've had from that appears to have perverted their whole way of thinking where they think that EVERYTHING must be done some unique Nintendo way.  No, there is a big difference between an innovative game that does things we've never seen before and a routine feature that everyone else does in an obvious and intuitive way being done in a strange way for no good reason.  The squid kids and the paint?  That's some outside-the-box ideas and that's the kind of stuff people like to see from Nintendo.  The unconventional online features?  No, no one wants that, no one is attracted to the product by that, it's just a shitty way to do it.  That's just core functionality and we all just expect it to work a certain proven way.

Despite Nintendo wishes, they are in competition with the other consoles on the market.  They're all fighting for the same dollars so potential customers make direct comparisons.  If you're the only one not doing something that people like, that's going to hurt sales.  If you're doing something strange and unfamiliar that offers no obvious improvement over the conventions that everyone else is doing, that's going to hurt sales.  You should want to do well in those comparisons where you're never the odd man out on a popular feature and when you're doing things differently it is clearly superior to the competition.  You want EXTRA bullet points, not LESS of them.  What's sounds like a better sales pitch?  "All this and more!" or "Some of this, none of that, this done in an arbitrarily different way, these unique features here."

I can't tell if Nintendo is lazy, stubborn or just so out-of-touch that they don't know and never really have known why they're ever successful.  "Doing SOMETHING different made us successful but I don't really know what it is so do EVERYTHING different just to be safe."

Mop it upJune 26, 2015

I'm half-deaf, so trying to use voice chat isn't worth it as it just results in plenty of "Huh what'd you say?" or ".......... (I hope I wasn't asked a question)." Maybe if they're ever able to make it have crystal-clear sound quality it could work for me, but even in that case, I probably still wouldn't care to use it.

nickmitchJune 26, 2015

Honestly, I think it's more a matter of "they can't" than "they won't".

Does any Wii U or 3DS game have online voice chat?

OedoJune 26, 2015

We finally got competent online play for a decent number of titles for the first time on the Wii U, so maybe they're saving this decade old "not really a revelation" revelation for the NX?

Either way, they can't keep coming up with these clever little excuses specific to each title forever.

Quote from: nickmitch

Honestly, I think it's more a matter of "they can't" than "they won't".

Does any Wii U or 3DS game have online voice chat?

Both Wii U Call of Duty titles have online voice chat.

nickmitchJune 27, 2015

I have one of them, but I never took it online.

But yeah, if Activision's B-team can do it, Nintendo sure as shit could.

chilenozoJune 29, 2015

I feel hopeful for the future when I see mature Nintendo fans can criticize Nintendo's actions (or inactions) in such professional ways. Voice chat ain't only for the haters but for the (very) social among us. I even consider a big contradiction that games like Splatoon will have a mode to play with friends, but without VC. What does Ninty thinks it's going to happen?...the answer is obvious, those competitive teams of friends will start using 3rd party PC VCs to pull ahead the rest and heavily dominate that mode, generating a disadvantage to those who don't have a PC/smartphone nearby or don't have friends on their teams. If you hate VC and are happy with Splatoon so far, let me tell you, you'll hate how much you'll lose on that mode once the competitive COD-type of ppl teams, like the one I belong to take over (similar to unwanted bikers arriving to a peaceful bar :)).
Nintendo should be humble and accept that either they have a permanently backwards and useless excuses (protecting children, perceiving that VC isuseless, etc.) or they simply don't know how to do it well. I personally think they don't know a thing cause of previous implementations of VC in released Ninty games, mostly mediocre work. Ninty should pick up the phone and ask Capcom or Activision how to get functional VC on the WiiU, but probably their egos are up to the roof and they don't think they should ask for help from anyone.

Mop it upJune 30, 2015

Quote from: nickmitch

Honestly, I think it's more a matter of "they can't" than "they won't".

Does any Wii U or 3DS game have online voice chat?

Technically, Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. Wii U have it, but only in the friend lobbies, and not during matches. For the 3DS side, the Pokémon games have it as well. For third-parties, in addition to the already-mentioned CoD games, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has it on Wii U, and Heroes of Ruin for 3DS has it also.

So yes, it's definitely Nintendo deciding to not include it.

budstickyJuly 06, 2015

I personally don't care that there's no voice chat in Splatoon.  I've played online shooters on the other consoles and I just end up muting everyone anyway, because to be honest, there is almost never any talk about the game.  It's usually just teenagers being obnoxious with the foul language.  I'm glad to have a family friendly shooting style game that isn't violent and, to this topic, that my kids can play without me worrying about them hearing every swear in the book.  And unfortunately, you know there would be more of that going on than any kind of team coordination.

Not to mention, Splatoon is so quick and chaotic you don't have much time to set up any grand plans.  Decent players can use the map to see where teammates are and work accordingly.  If you're not inclined to do that then somebody yelling at you in voice chat isn't going to help.

I can see having voice chat for talking to friends and what not, but I'm actually happy it isn't in Splatoon.  I can actually play in peace. 

I get the arguments that if someone doesn't use voice chat, they don't personally care either way if Nintendo games have it.

What argument I don't get is when someone says "man, i'm so happy Nintendo didn't include voice chat so I don't have to hear 12 year olds yell obscenities or tell me how they slept with my mother.".  There's a guy on the Player One Podcast who has made comments like that a good 3 or 4 times in the last month, and each time I hear it, I think "that's why something like voice chat is usually optional in games that have it.

Why would you be anti-choice on something like this?

Mop it upJuly 08, 2015

Quote from: lolmonade

Why would you be anti-choice on something like this?

I guess some parents worry that their kids would turn it on, but that's where parental controls (should) come in.

nickmitchJuly 08, 2015

Quote from: Mop

Quote from: nickmitch

Honestly, I think it's more a matter of "they can't" than "they won't".

Does any Wii U or 3DS game have online voice chat?

Technically, Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. Wii U have it, but only in the friend lobbies, and not during matches. For the 3DS side, the Pokémon games have it as well. For third-parties, in addition to the already-mentioned CoD games, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has it on Wii U, and Heroes of Ruin for 3DS has it also.

So yes, it's definitely Nintendo deciding to not include it.

Maybe Nintendo just can't figure it out without making sacrifices.  Like their online programming abilities are just weaksauce.  It's a shame.  Nintendo's devs used to have such honor.


LucarioJuly 12, 2015

I like to imagine this is how the voice chat discussion went down at Nintendo Japan.

Employer: Consumers are asking for voice chat sir!
Iwata: what that's unthinkable!
Iwata: Seriously do people want to be insulted?
Employer: um sir...
Iwata: Like Seriously it's not like are games need voice chat!?
Iwata: Fuck it give then Skype!

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