The Wii needs Online Voice-Chat!!! sign now

I will be quoting Matt from IGN. I hope he doesn't bother, but it is a serious lack to the wii's online support not to include voice-chat.

Matt Casamassina

September 12, 2007 - The following is an editorial by IGN Nintendo Team editor-in-chief Matt Casamassina. It absolutely does represent the views of IGN as a whole.

Please, Nintendo. Don't ship the cooperative-online action title Battalion Wars II until you're ready to offer gamers the means to communicate with each other as they play. I should define communication, which is absolutely not the ability to assign basic commands to Wii's D-Pad. "Follow me!" or "Stay here!" are one-way orders, not a dialog. That kind of half-baked attempt might've sufficed for connectivity seven years ago, but we're beyond that now, just like we're beyond keyboards. In today's games, as anybody who plays online knows, we communicate by voice and not by button taps or key strokes. So please, don't make us take a step backward even as you take one forward. You've already released a headset and microphone for your handheld. Where's the equivalent for Wii?

Despite some initial connection kinks, I was ultimately pleased with Mario Strikers Charged's online mode. I'm no fan of friend codes because they complicate the process of connecting with your friends, a truth that spits in the face of everything that Wii represents: namely, simplicity and ease of use. However, having entered my editor Mark Bozon's friend code and he mine, the two of us were able to very quickly assemble an online match. We played for 15 minutes without any noticeable lag and when the series was finally over, we were both returned to the title's Wi-Fi Connection interface, where we could potentially setup another bout. Then my telephone rang.

"Hey, that was pretty fun, huh? Do you want to play again?" asked Mark.

I did. "Listen, stay on the call while I cycle through the settings. Which stadium do you want to play in?"

Do you see where this is going?

I'm not asking for a miracle here. Gamers have been using headsets to voice-chat online for years. If you play online with Microsoft's Xbox 360 a lot, there's a good chance you do so while wearing the system's official headset. You can even do it on PlayStation 2 or, for that matter, PSP. And if all of these examples weren't already proof enough, what about Nintendo's own DS handheld? Yep -- Pokemon Diamond / Pearl are fully compatible with an already-released DS Headset, which plugs directly into the dual-screened portable and enables robust two-way communication in online matches. I've tried it several times over and it works flawlessly. We're all aware that Wii lacks the horsepower of say, PlayStation 3 (which, by the way, supports third party headsets through Bluetooth technology), but if DS can do it, so can the Big N's home console.

Already, two major Wii releases -- Pokemon Battle Revolution and the aforementioned Mario Strikers Charged -- have missed the voice-chat boat, and third party efforts are about to ship without headset support, too. I recently played Medal of Honor Heroes 2 Wii from EA Canada, a wartime first-person shooter with surprisingly tight controls (maybe even superior to Metroid Prime 3, if you can believe it) and a very promising 32-player online mode that the developer promises will run at 60 frames per second. Sounds fantastic, of course, but during these online matches, there will be no quick and intuitive means to communicate with your friends or, if you're that kind of player, trash-talk your enemies. You'll have to enter messages via a virtual keyboard. That should go over well in the heat of battle! Worms: A Space Oddity from Team 17 and THQ will ship for Wii with a four-player online competitive mode. This series is popular because of its classic multiplayer mode and also because you're able to laugh at your friends as you blast their worms with missiles, sending them falling to the sea below. That playful back and forth banter is going to be lost in the game's online mode -- not because the developer doesn't want to include voice support, but because it can't. Nintendo hasn't supplied any third parties with the means to do it.

The list goes on, of course. Madden 2008. FIFA 2008. NBA Live 2008. Nitrobike. They all come to Wii with online modes, but there's no Wii headset and thus, there's no voice chat of any kind.

When playing Pokemon Battle Revolution or Mario Strikers Charged, I'm reminded of taking the seven-year-old Dreamcast footballer NFL 2K1 online. Back then, you either used a Dreamcast keyboard to type messages online, or you were effectively mute. I can vividly remember scoring touchdown after touchdown against an online opponent and his only means to communicate his frustration was to repeatedly tap the pause button. On Wii, you can't even do that.

More recently, I've been playing a lot of Endless Ocean for Wii. The scuba-diving title is already available in Japan as Forever Blue, and is set to hit Nintendo's console in America on October 29. Endless Ocean feels less like a typical game and more like a non-game. You point the Wii remote at the screen to guide your scuba-diver through a wealth of gorgeous underwater environments. The unique title features a two-player online cooperative mode, in which you and a friend can explore these lush locales together. Sounds great, but I can only imagine the perpetual state of confusion both players will find themselves in as they together embark upon each underwater adventure. Without any voice chat, one player will always need to lead and the other follow (if they are to stay together), for starters. But the bigger issue with the lack of voice communication is that there is simply no way to pass the time with a friend as the two of you explore. It's a fundamental problem and one spotlighted in Endless Ocean, whose gameplay design emphasizes long sessions of slow-paced swimming and searching.

Some gamers who own an Xbox 360 have already half-jokingly suggested a quickie workaround: sign on to Xbox Live, establish a voice chat with your buddy, and then boot up your online Wii game and play. It's a pretty ghetto (and hopefully temporary) solution, but I'm willing to do it if I have to. Clearly, I'm not the only one.

Frankly, that Nintendo hasn't at least promised or, for that matter, even commented on the prospect of a Wii headset or online voice chat has me wholeheartedly puzzled, especially since both are available already to DS owners. What's stopping the Big N from releasing a Wii headset and making it possible for third parties to support it? I don't know. Over lunch yesterday, I discussed this very subject with a few coworkers and we all agreed that there are no technical barriers. Indeed, creative developers could probably find a way to release their own voice-chat solution already. There are, after all, two USB ports on Wii and companies like EA have already released a USB-powered microphone. So, what's to stop a third party (or Nintendo) from shipping an online game with a wireless USB headset? The base plugs into the USB port on Wii and boom, you're chatting. Price would certainly be a drawback -- boxing a game with a piece of hardware is always more expensive, but worst case, developers could support such a feature in-software and consumers could decide whether or not to purchase the hardware from a third party vendor. It is, at the very least, an option for those who want one.

It's not the only solution, though. It's no big secret that Wii and Wii remote interact with one another via Bluetooth technology. We know that four Wii remotes can simultaneously communicate with the console in multiplayer games. So why can't we pick up a Bluetooth headset and use it to communicate with friends in online matches? I just bought a really nice one for my iPhone and thus, if Wii supported a wide variety of headsets, like PlayStation 3 does, this editorial would be moot. Also, developers across the industry would undoubtedly be thrilled, as they could finally include proper voice-chat support in their Wii games. There's also another alternative, which is a pass-through dongle. Nintendo could release a very simple headset that plugs into the bottom of a Wii remote, but also works as a pass-through, still enabling a connection to the nunchuk. Easy. Undeniably cheap.

I'm thinking about Battalion Wars 2. I loved the first game on GameCube - it was a fantastic surprise - and I'm really looking forward to this sequel, which, according to Nintendo, will release on October 29 right alongside Endless Ocean. Like everyone else, I was disappointed that Pokemon Battle Revolution and Mario Strikers Charged lacked a means to communicate, but no voice support for BWii would be a far greater omission because of the online cooperative play. You need to be able to effectively communicate with your friend to plan and coordinate attacks, or maybe to retreat in unison if the situation calls for it, and you just won't be able to do that with canned text messages assigned to the D-Pad, assuming the game even includes something like that. I would actually prefer that Nintendo and developer Kuju Entertainment delay Battalion Wars 2 if it means that it will arrive with headset support.

There is another game to consider, though. You might know it by name. It's called Super Smash Bros. Brawl. When Satoru Iwata unveiled the title, he promised that it would arrive on Wii with an online multiplayer mode. (He also promised it'd launch with the system, but hey) Everything we've heard about the fighter suggests that the online mode is intact. Now, all of the Smash Bros. titles have flourished as multiplayer endeavors. You sit on a couch with three friends and you beat the hell out of each other on-screen, and all the while the room is overrun with laughter, with shouting, with teasing and trash-talking, and it's all part of what makes Nintendo's brawler so enjoyable. Now imagine all that interaction thrown directly out the window online if Brawl ships without headset support. It can't happen. What of Animal Crossing and the rumored next installment in the Pikmin franchise? What about Mario Kart?

Sooner or later, Nintendo has to step up and recognize that online Wii players are not mute. We're asking that this realization happen sooner and not later. Some first- and third-party efforts have already released and will ship with without headset support, which is a shame. But Nintendo, don't shortchange the online components of on-the-horizon Wii games. Your DS headset proves that you already have the means to solve the problem, so why are you keeping your audience waiting for a feature that has been standard for several years on home consoles already?

Unfortunately, queries to Nintendo of America on the subject of Wii's lacking headset and voice chat options went unanswered.

Quote ends here.

So as you can read, Nintendo, for some games it doesn't even make sense not to have a voice-chat function included. PokŠ¹mon Diamond and Pearl proved how usefull it is, now please do something about the wii, make the wii the ultimate party and family communication console.

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Latest Signatures

  • 15 September 201550. Luke S
    Come on Nintendo! If you really want to beat Sony and Microsoft, give us a MIC. This is part of the reason why some people are buying Xbox360s and not Wiis. Name Luke Schroer
  • 28 August 201549. Carlos C
    wii need a headset Name carlos castrejon
  • 28 April 201548. Iain S
    Come on Nintendo! This is a no-brainer. Voice chat has become a standard for online play. If you're truly serious about online then you need to add this quickly. Name iain scott
  • 15 January 201547. Metc Acevedo
    I want to beat up people and be able to mock them too!!!! Name METC
  • 04 November 201446. Marcus C
    I support this petition
  • 11 September 201445. Steingrmur J
    I support this petition
  • 29 June 201444. Ray T
  • 28 February 201443. Miiwillrockyou Adkins
    Go voice chat!` Name MII_WILL_ROCK_YOU
  • 07 February 201442. Jesus Reid
    I support this petition
  • 17 January 201441. Nathan L
    For the love, give it to us! Name Nathan Lloyd
  • 13 July 201340. Evan Sampson
    I support this petition
  • 26 June 201339. Jared W
    I support this petition
  • 11 May 201338. Britton F
    Battalion wars two... Need to speak... Name Britton fuqua
  • 21 January 201337. Envoy Vang
    This won't work, but who am I to say what you should do with your free time? Name Envoy
  • 06 November 201236. Chris T
    I support this petition
  • 07 September 201235. Chris C
    Give us voice chat, Nintendo! Name Chris Coates
  • 01 September 201234. David Mb
    I support this petition
  • 24 June 201233. Hannah S
    I support this petition
  • 02 May 201232. Jack C
    I just wanna say that the reason no one takes these Online petetions seriously is cause there are always people signing fake, funny, or Nicknames. But please nintendo, give us a Mic, it is a Must for Online Co-op Name Jack Curtan
  • 07 March 201231. Jose Weiss
    I support this petition
  • 27 December 201130. Stewy R
    voip is essential in games like BWii Name Stewy R.
  • 02 December 201129. Link Solis
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  • 31 October 201127. Mark G
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  • 01 May 201126. Thomas Taylorm
    I support this petition
  • 13 April 201125. Carlos Hines
    WII NEED A HEADSET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Name CARLOS
  • 03 April 201124. Matt M
    Please Nintendo! We need Voice Chat more than you think! Name Matt McGovern

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