In Splatoon‘s online multiplayer, the only words ever spoken are “C’mon” and “Booyah!” That’s because there’s no voice chat, and those two “commands” are placed on the Wii U GamePad’s direction buttons.
The lack of voice chat has been a point of discussion for gamers ever since Nintendo revealed the feature’s absence months ago. The game’s already out, doing very well for itself and garnering extremly high praise from gamers and critics alike. Yet, here we are, still talking about voice chat.
The developers of the game are talking about it, too. Nintendo Life had a chance to speak with Splatoon Producer Hisashi Nogami directly about the absence of voice chat, and he responded in detail, even highlighting its potential benefits.
“We want everyone to play this game from the same point, so that all players – those who haven’t played shooters before, as well as those who have – can enjoy the game. Getting to this though meant going through a selection process for all features that should appear in the game, and as part of this process we decided to leave out voice chat.”
Got that? Nintendo wants to make sure that players who game solo and for fun are on a level playing field with those who run in clans (I’ve seen a few in the game already). Of course, those clan members likely have Skype or Vent running on a laptop next to them while playing in order to have voice chat anyways. The “missing” feature won’t stop hardcore players from doing it.
Nogami went on.
“We think there are two reasons for wanting to use it: to play strategically, and to know what you opponent is feeling. We designed the game so that it’s still possible to play strategically, while also giving due consideration so that there is no extreme advantage one way or the other. In terms of knowing what your opponent is feeling, we really do understand the fun that can be had with this, but we hope that you will also understand that it can also have a negative effect too.”
I get it. But, like I said, leaving the feature out just means those who really want it are going to get it another way. It’s not hard to use a nearby computer for team chat through a headset, and I guarantee players are already doing this en masse.
I get the decision, but I certainly don’t think it’s working. Point blank, it’s probably much cheaper to exclude voice chat than to offer it. Nintendo’s not saying that, of course, but the thought has crossed my mind plenty.