Ever since the announcement of the Wii U there has been a little concern that has been lingering in the back of my mind. Voice chat. This is a simple thing that has been part of video games ever since high speed internet has become so common.
|"Nobody pick up the phone! I'm downloading a big file!"|
Back in the the days of dial-up internet, talking with your friends and/or opponents was kept to a text only means, for obvious reason. The technology just simply wasn't in place at the time neither was the speed for transmitting both game information and a constant stream of voice data between players. That's not to say there weren't people trying. I seem to remember around the time that high speed internet options being available(the provider in my area would provide high speed and charge based per every 500MB, yeah, insane... We had dial-up for a while...), seeing voice chat programs that would allow you to voice chat with people while playing games. These options were new at the time though and usually only allowed push to talk options to help eliminate any unnecessary data transmission and help keeping the game flowing. I remember playing the original Starcraft with a friend and using one of these programs over our dial-up connections. Every time I pushed the button to talk, I noticed the game lag.
Fast forward today and voice chat is essentially a must when it comes to console gaming. Something I feel Microsoft did a good job with it's original Xbox. Making voice chat a must across all xbox live titles. The voice chat function would expand when Microsoft launched the Xbox 360. Not only did were you able to voice chat with all your buddies in any xbox live game, but essentially across every game! As you could start a chat session in the dashboard, and continue that session as you switched from game to game. As long as you are connected to xbox live, you are connected to your other Xbox Live buddies.
My concern with the Wii U, is that Nintendo will try to take things their own route and not have a similar system set in place. From what I've seen of the social aspect of the Wii U, you have to suspend a game, then post something, video/voice chat with buddies, and then jump back into the game. Much like the 3DS where you can suspend a title and do other things in the main system menu. Check friends list, browse the web, write a quick note, take a picture, etc. Unfortunately there is no option to start up a chat and get back to a game continuing your conversation while you play. I wish so badly that this was the case with the 3DS, you essentially have the option to talk with your buddies at any time across any game, which would have been great, but oh well. My fear is that this same style of suspend a game > do something > go back to game is what Nintendo is going to do with the Wii U and we'll only be able to talk with friends if the developer of a game puts that option into their game, or suspend the game and start a conversation via video chat.
We are almost a month away from launch and I feel like the social aspect of the Wii U is still shrouded in much mystery. I want details, what I'll be able to do, what I won't be able to do, all of that. I'm already buying the system, I got mine pre-ordered and ready to pick it up as soon as it launches, but the lack of details is frustrating to me. Especially when we are so close to launch, I feel like we should know everything there is to know about by now. Please Nintendo, give us the goods! Just give us all the info already!