Hear me, Hear me! WoW Voice Chat
Yes, World of Warcraft has a built-in voice chat feature. Surprised? I was. I’ve been playing for over a year but only found out about it a few weeks ago and only then because someone mentioned it offhandedly on Twitter. Apparently it was introduced in patch 2.2 way back in 2007. Really? How the heck did we miss that one. I had no idea about it and it seemed that I wasn’t the only one, everyone else I asked usually just opting to use Ventrillo or Teamspeak instead.
Being of bold adventurer stock (I once travelled abroad and didn’t pack enough socks), I decided to give it a shot. In case your wondering, which you aren’t, the option to activate said voice chattification ability is under the “Voice” tab in the “Sound & Voice” menu. The theory is that you just click it on, select your mic input device and sound output device along with any custom settings you want and away you go. In practice though, it doesn’t quite work out that way.
Firstly, this feature isn’t available to players on a trial account (as my brother discovered), presumably to stop gold farmers from shouting Chinese obscenities or marketing slogans down your ear. Fair enough. However, after using it for a good couple of weeks now, I can safely say that it’s one buggy piece of work. It took several regroups and relogs to get the initial thing set up and now it consistently doesn’t work for a player if they change character (the remedy being that you have to log out completely and return). It also doesn’t seem to want to work at all in groups formed using the dungeon finder (oddly enough it works fine in battlegrounds).
The voice system isn’t all bad though and does offer some nice features though like the ability to quieten the game’s music or sound effects when someone is talking along with seeing the name of the player in your WoW UI. It also has the obligatory push-to-talk setup and the overall sound quality is pretty decent considering you’re not talking through a dedicated server. Plus it’s very convenient and very free. Which is nice.
I guess I’m a little torn over the whole thing. It works, well, some of the time (unless you want to change character, run a cross-server dungeon or have a conversation with more than 5 people or anyone outside for your group) and it saves me the hassle of installing a 3rd party piece of software or paying for some VoIP server. Still, my biggest gripe is just how shoddy the implementation is and that the whole thing, even after 2+ years of it being around, is still bug ridden. I’m genuinely surprised to see this from Blizzard and I can only assume it’s a low priority to them due to it’s lack of use from the player base.
Convenience is winning out at the moment but I can see that the issues with WoW’s voice chat are going to eventually force me and my buddies to switch to something else. The real killer is how it doesn’t work with groups from the dungeon finder and we’re already discussing switching to Skype as a result.
Anyone able to recommend any other free voice chat systems that are compatible with both PC (Windows 7) and Mac?