You Can Voice-Chat On The Wii U While Gaming, But There’s A Catch

You Can Voice-Chat On The Wii U While Gaming, But There’s A Catch

The Wii U will support in-game voice chat, but you’ll be forgiven if you’re not sure exactly how that will work. Nintendo hasn’t shown an official headset for the WIi U and the Wii U’s Pro Controller — the one that looks a lot like an Xbox 360 controller — doesn’t even have a port to connect one.

So how does it work?

The new Nintendo console will support in-game voice chat for “select games”, a rep for the company tells Kotaku. Among the games supported will be Assassin’s Creed III, Call of Duty Black Ops II and Mass Effect 3, all games with significant online multiplayer modes and all which support in-game voice chat on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The Wii U GamePad — the console’s signature twin-stick controller that contains a 6.2-inch screen — contains a microphone and speakers, but that mic does not actually work with the voice chat. Nintendo tells me that users who want to be able to talk to each other can use a licensed stereo headset from Turtle Beach or Mad Catz (Tritton). The headsets plug into the GamePad’s headphone jack.

At least one of the aforementioned games, Black Ops II, supports the Pro Controller, but that controller’s lack of a jack will require Pro Controller gamers who want voice chat to do something a bit counterintuitive. They’ll have to plug their headset into the GamePad, the controller they are otherwise not using, according to a spokesperson for CoD publisher Activision. That rep believes that gamers might be able to use a standard set of headphones that contain a mic (iPhone headphones, for example) with the GamePad, but that’s not something I’ve been able to clarify yet with Nintendo.

Wired gaming headsets are not uncommon but wireless are popular with a lot of people. It doesn’t seem that the Wii U has a wireless headset on the horizon. The Mad Catz headsets are wired. So are the competition’s. A spokesperson for Turtle Beach confirmed to me that all of their Wii U headsets are wired, despite the potential for wireless connections. “The Wii U supports Bluetooth and can pair with its own accessories,” she said over e-mail, “but the officially licensed headsets we produce and offer are wired and designed for use directly with the [GamePad] tablet.”

An E3 demonstration of out-of-game voice-chat on the Wii U implied that users would be able to communicate with each other using the speaker on the Wii U GamePad, no headset needed.

Nintendo tends to clarify matters like this in slow motion, a volley of an e-mail one day, a reply the next and so on. I’ve volleyed back to them about the Wii U’s potential to support wireless headsets down the line. It seems that such an option might be possible either through a Bluetooth connection or even between a headset and some sort of signal connector plugged into one of the Wii U’s USB ports. But those are not the options available now. It’s possible — and this is purely speculation — that the wireless connection needs of the Wii U GamePad, which has to receive a lag-free high-quality video signal from the console through thin air, could affect the viability of there being many other wireless connections to the console. We’ll see.

As with the launch of any console, there are many mysteries about specific aspects of Wii U gaming. Many will be solved as soon as more gamers, game-makers and peripheral manufacturers get their hands on the console. For now, you’ve got some basics:

  • No universal support for in-game voice chat
  • Game-by-game support for in-game chat
  • The GamePad mic will not, by default, work as an input for in-game voice chat
  • The Wii U will support wired headsets (and possibly mic-enabled headphones), but only through the Wii U GamePad
  • No news yet about whether wireless headsets can or will be supported


  • I was literally thinking about picking up a wii u recently and this is a huge deal breaker. What the hell kind of console doesn’t have universal voice chat capabilities and 0 options on the pro controller.

    For all Nintendo’s wank about more focus on the core gamer, this will no doubt alienate them even more. Nintendo have NFI what they are doing.

  • Nice to see my previous comment not get through. There is an Afterglow wireless headset already available in stores for 138 dollars that works with every console including the Wii U

  • So basically we have game-by-game voice chat, which of course I pressume allowes the devs to put in voice chat over the gamepad should they wish and program it in.

    I hardly see the problem then? This is basically any other game/console out there. The only thing that could be a potential issue is if your playing a single player game and want to voice chat with a mate at the same time – but we dont know for sure if thats not in there at this stage?

    As for the theory on bandwidth – we already know now that the WiiU can power 2x Gamepads, although at a capped 30fps. Thats a massive amount of bandwidth available! Im pretty sure it can handle the small amount of data that voice chat creates.

  • I don’t understand what this article means by ‘no wireless support’… …
    Headset plugs into GamePad. GamePad is wireless…
    While the headset itself will still have a wire; doesn’t this sort of portability offer all you want from a
    wireless headset? Plus it avoids the hassle of having separate batteries for your headset.

  • Another stupid decision by Nintendo. Why not give us the option to chat using the Pro controller, on ANY game, and have a wireless mic?
    I was also pissed that the controllers don’t have analogue triggers and are button triggers instead 🙁
    Makes absolutely zero sense to me why Nintendo makes these stupid decisions that limit themselves and 3rd party devs.
    I’m still getting Wii U day one and am still excited to get my hands on it but it baffles me when they do stuff like this.

    • Your still buying it day one is why they do this.
      You will winge a little, but you still foam at the mouth for anything with the Nintendo logo on it.
      Fanboys are how they will make their money. At least for the first few months.

      I can’t see soccer mums buying in again, and surely most hardcore players will wait and see what’s special about Xbox and play station next gen consoles when they announce early next year. Can’t see them wanting a last gen console without even some of the last gen features missing, a tiny library of games and it being unlikely that next gen games won’t be ported or will be majorly gimped. Sorry, but facts are facts.

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