Fri 19 Oct 2012
With exactly a month to go until the Wii U launches in North America, there's still a good deal we don't know about how the system's online gameplay and other services will function. Official information on this score has been hard to come by, being released in drips and drabs that usually have to be pried out of Nintendo with a crowbar. The latest bit of news in this area surrounds voice chat on the system. And Nintendo's response does not inspire confidence that the company has finally created a strong set of integrated online gaming features for the Wii U (or figured out how to support online gaming right in general).
Kotaku got Nintendo to admit in-game chatting on the Wii U would only work on "select games" including Assassin's Creed III, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and Mass Effect. This gels with previous statements where Nintendo hinted it would allow third-party publishers to implement their own online gameplay solutions, rather than locking them into a system-wide online solution. It's still a little disappointing that the company has removed any possibility of Xbox Live-style, cross-game Party chat, or even casual voice conversations during single player games.
Oddly enough, even games that support voice chat won't be able to take advantage of the speakers and microphone already built in to every Wii U GamePad (along with a crappy, front-facing video camera). Instead, Nintendo says you should plug a licensed stereo headset from a third-party manufacturer like Turtle Beach or Mad Catz into the GamePad to get in-game chat working. Things get even weirder if you want to chat while using the Xbox 360-styled Pro Controller—it doesn't have a headphone jack. In that case, you'll have to keep the bulky GamePad nearby as a kind of wireless docking station for your headset (we're reminded a bit of the way the Wii Remote always had to dangle uselessly off the bottom of the Wii's Classic Controller to leech off it's Wireless signal).