A call for a reasoned approach to the Wii U voice chat issue

My word, there's been a lot of criticism of Nintendo's Wii U voice chat lately! By now you will probably have heard about how the Wii U's voice chat implementation is, by some accounts, "baffling" and a "deal breaker". By requiring users to plug in a headset into the Gamepad, and not utilizing the built in mic for in game chat, somehow this has caught the ire of many game journalists and gamers alike.

How about this: "Wow, the Nintendo Wii U Gamepad has a port where you can plug in a headset with a mic and voice chat with a high quality mic and good sounding headphones, adding immeasurably to you and your teammates' enjoyment of the game!"

Anyone remember Wii Speak? It was ghastly. I don't blame Nintendo for requiring users to use a headset.

For all those who are confused why Nintendo doesn't just let you use the built in mic on the Gamepad, you either must have a high tolerance for crappy voice chat quality, or you haven't thought this through.

The mic on the Gamepad is inevitably going to pick up all kinds of handling noise, clicking and clacking of buttons, and a lot of ambient room noise, game sounds from your TV and so on. A mic that is directly beside your mouth is going to pick up a lot more of your voice, and less background noise. Score one for a better user experience. And the people you're playing with will thank you as well.

"Oh, but the new Pro controller should have a headphone port too, and it doesn't, so that sucks!" Really? So what's the problem with keeping the Gamepad nearby while you play so you can have your headset plugged in? Hopefully there will be a map, or inventory display on the Gamepad anyway, so you'll need to keep it handy so you can access it. I think we'd better get used to the idea of having the Gamepad around, maybe putting it on a stand (*cough included in the Deluxe set) while we play our games using the Pro controller.

"I hate wires, I want a wireless headset! Waaah, waah!" Ok, so no one has said that wireless headsets WON'T work with the Wii U, but it seems like a lot of people saying it MIGHT not work. Headset manufacturers are saying that it probably will WORK, so it really means no one really knows for sure. So let's wait on that until we have more details, shall we?

Really, we should be thankful that Nintendo is supporting headsets in such a normal, standard way, and not making some propietary connector for the headsets. That would suck.

Posted on October 22, 2012 and filed under Article.