Mass Effect 3’s New Voice Commands Are Xbox 360-only And Here’s Why

Mass Effect 3’s New Voice Commands Are Xbox 360-only And Here’s Why

Mass Effect 3 is getting Kinect support, letting you issue commands with your voice, letting you play the devil or angel on Shepard’s shoulder. If that sounds like a feature you want, note that voice command won’t be coming to the PlayStation 3 or PC versions of the game, BioWare says.

While it might make sense for BioWare to also support voice controls in Mass Effect 3 via the PS3’s PlayStation Eye or a USB microphone, the game’s developers say they aren’t planning to support anything but Kinect at this point.

Mass Effect executive producer Casey Hudson says BioWare is bringing voice commands to Kinect and Xbox 360 because Microsoft’s sound and motion-sensing controller is doing the hard work of voice recognition. Kinect’s internal hardware is what makes it possible, not just its microphones.

Mass Effect 3 is scheduled for release on PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360 on March 6, 2012.

We’ll have more on Mass Effect 3 from E3 2011 soon.


  • Would the voice commands work on a PC version of the game that has a Kinect hooked up to the computer though?

    • Probably not, the XBox has Kinect software to go along with the hardware, the hardware itself wouldn’t need to be anything more advanced than a microphone (directional noise cancelling mics are even better for this situation), but the software processes that sound input and translates it into words or commands for the game to interpret. This would be why it’s not available for PC or PS3, because those systems don’t have that software layer to convert your spoken words into commands (well they don’t have any standard/reliable way of doing so, of course there’s speech recognition software for the PC, but it’s not universal like the Kinect stuff).

      • I hear that software is hard to put on PCs…. oh wait…

        Don’t kid yourself. They may claim that the Kinect is state of the art, but in the end… its just a basic voice command protocol that could EASILY be adapted to anything with a microphone.

        This is all about the money.

  • I call bullshit.
    How hard could it possibly be to use a microphone in the same way on a ps3 or PC.
    Hardware of the kinect my ass.

    • Well considering that there’s no standard microphone for PS3 or PC that is the equivilant of the Kinect, and the Kinect has it’s own voice regonition software built into it. So yeah, a mic wouldn’t be enough, there’d have to be a standard baseline for Bioware to build off.

      Doesn’t hurt that the first Mass Effect was made alongside Microsoft’s game division, so they probably have more acess to the kinect than they would with the move or anything else.

      • Kinect isn’t a ‘standard microphone’ for Xbox360, though… it is a seperate piece of hardware that most 360 owners would still need to purchase seperately… The reason for all this has nothing to do with what is ‘easiest’ or ‘best for the player’ or anything other than, simply, Microsoft wants to sell more Kinect hardware.

        It could be done with the ‘standard’ headset mic, but that doesn’t sell Kinects.

      • “There’s no standard microphone for PS3 or PC that is the equivilant of the Kinect”

        Yeah… okay buddy. Maybe you should check any add for any best buy or wal-mart… Like an add from maybe… eh….. six years ago? There are been high quality headsets out for years. Many of them far outstrip the kinect in specs.

        • There are plenty of better mics out there, but like he mentioned before the Kinect already has voice recognition software. If Bioware wanted to be able to use a standard mic they would have to build their own VR software from the ground up and that would have taken quite a bit longer than adapting an existing program.

  • Why? Just because.

    Oh, and MS gave us heaps of money to produce “core” kinect content that obviously can’t be reproduced with the PS Move alternative.

    • Yep, I personally don’t care that it won’t be on the pc either. I never intended to use the feature.

    • Kinect still has an underlying API attached. Think of it as DirectX to Windows Games: A game can be made to run directly off of your video card without DirectX – but the DirectX API has already done the legwork so that developers don’t need to – the Xbox does the processing, though the processing runs on a separate thread to the game.

      A similar framework exists on the 360 with the Kinect API. Bioware doesn’t need to write the software to perform voice recognition because the Kinect API likely already has inbuilt software with the ability to turn speech into plain-text, which is much easier to interpret commands from and less expensive to support.

      It may be a convenient excuse but it’s a legitimate excuse.

      • Exactly. Kinect was built with the goal that a Kinect control scheme would be as easy to implement as a traditional controller. A similar solution would exist for the PC but they’d probably have to either build their own voice recognition software or spend money licensing it from someone else. In the end this is probably about three things:
        -It’s free/easy to implement.
        -It’s something they want to experiement with (if it works out well I imagine it’ll become a standard feature on all their new games regardless of platform).
        -It’s something that will score them some points with Microsoft.

        The real issue is whether or not it will work in regions where Kinect voice commands haven’t been enabled. I’m guessing no. =(

      • I’m not the most technically sophisticated guy, but surely they can access the voice recognition API without the device, seeing as the API is on the box. This would rule out Sony and PC, but why not X-Boxes with the API and not the input device. Kinect itself is basically a camera and a microphone. The device itself was initially designed to do the processing, but they decided to reduce costs. My assumption is that they were paid not to make it only work with Kinect, at the expense even of other X-Box users.

        • Parts of the voice recognition require Kinect. Though it is obviously a exclusive feature deal between Bioware and Microsoft since they are refusing to add support via connect to the PC version (and the code would be almost the same as the code they used for voice support on 360)

          • Can’t see why MS would want to support a PC. Especially considering it runs using Windows and Windows 7 can cost more than an Xbox! (and its 95% profit baby).

  • So they’re saying that they’re doing it only on x360 because Kinect gives them a solution that’s already ready to work with the game which doesn’t exist on… pc? With voice recognition available from the OS itself… which I use for voice recognition in FSX using addons like FS 2 Crew.
    I wouldn’t mind a statement saying “That’s a deal between us and Microsoft to promote the great features of Kinect blah blah”, but their story instead is dishonest and makes it look like they’re taking us for fools and ignorants. Even if you think we’re stupid please keep it to yourself Bioware…

  • Does Kinect have issues with accents? I have a sort of weird mix of American/Australian accent and most of the voice recognition devices I’ve used in the past have had trouble understanding my requests.

    • The updates for Kinect’s Voice recognition (adding 8 new regions) is planned for later this year (probably coinciding with the dashboard update). If Microsoft sticks to that, there’ll be plenty of time before the ME3 release next March.
      Unless they’re as slack about this as they seem to be with the Kinect SDK – does MS think it’s still Spring?

  • OOoh, I think I know why. Microsoft paid them to incorporate an extra feature to try an increase the sales on the 360, given that it’s going have the worst graphics out of the 3 systems.

    And using that as a reason for not having the feature on PC is kind of lame, due the much greater amount of processing power available. ‘Couldn’t be bothered’ could be more legit excuse, but given how many people already have Kinects set up on PCs, and microsofts promised SDK, it just seems like a waste of an opportunity.

  • I love all the debate regarding the reason behind the 360 exclusivity when we should really be asking if it’s actually going to enhance or detract from the game.

    Will it work – Yes. Will it make the game better – unlikely.

    I’ll still be playing on 360 most likely but probably not with Kinect – I play 99% of my games with an X41 headset. I can’t see them activating the voice control through headset.

  • This movement/voice controlled fad will not die quick enough in my opinion. Who wants to yell at their TV? I mean, really….

    • Why not? My missus is always laughing at me for yelling at the tv while watching the football. Now if they integrate this kind of ‘egging on’ system into the next Madden or FIFA then at least I’d have an excuse for acting like a fool.

    • I agree. In fact I’d prefer not to use voice control. Maybe in battles, but during Mass Effect’s conversation system, I like thinking of the options the player picks as silent, general ideas that cross Shepard’s mind before he speaks.

      Talking before Shepard just makes that whole conversarion system akward.

  • Rather ironic actually that I’ll be getting the game on the Xbox but have absolutely no interest in this stupid gimmick they’re tacking on to it.

    On the otherhand though I’m from Australia so it’s not like I could if I wanted to.

  • Or you could, you know, speak the commands as you would with the Kinect while using the buttons on the controller and save yourself 200 dollars.

  • I call bullshit. The End War game used voice commands perfectly fine with just a dumb headset. I’m guessing BioWare was showered with some of that MS moolah to keep this ability just for the 360 version just so they can show off the Kinect a bit more.

  • Let’s just say the PS move wasn’t compatible with Kinect’s pure cash innjection that allowed Bioware to realise the full potential of it.

  • “Mass Effect executive producer Casey Hudson says BioWare is bringing voice commands to Kinect and Xbox 360 because Microsoft’s sound and motion-sensing controller needs more units sold and the best way to shoe-horn it into being useful is with voice recognition. Microsoft’s extremely generous monetary leverage is what makes it possible, not just its microphones.”


  • Yet another case of developers pandering to an outdated console architecture instead of the up-to-date PC platform for the sake of profit and convenience over producing the best possible product.

    A sad continuation of the depressing state of affairs. I just wish I could bring myself to expect better from someone like Bioware…

  • So BioWare is bad for taking advantage of a system for voice recognition that is already in place on 360 but not PS3 or PC? Just because they’re going to spend more time making the actual game instead of coding their own voice recognition software?

    What’s the problem?

  • I played tom clancy’s end war a game that came out 3 years ago using the xbox 360 headset and it worked just freaking fine and that game is pretty much all voice commands
    so why cant I give one simple command in mass effect 3 without some stupid $100+ sensor that I probably wont use for anything else

    • I’m not sure why no one else has mentioned it, and if you have thank you for being smart. But pc does have the voice recognition api’s built in. Any one with vista or windows 7 has the same api’s as the connect. there is no excuse for the pc not to have the voice command feature.

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