This post isn’t about the current state of affairs in the real world, though feel free to steal the title for your own post about the dystopian nightmare we’re living in currently.
No, this is a follow up to a poll I ran… a few months back at this point.
I did a post about The State of Voice in 2020 back in early March about voice software used during gaming, a follow up on a couple of past posts on this topic, which concluded with the traditional poll to get a sense of which voice software people were favoring these days.
The results were a lopsided victory for Discord.
When asked to specify their primary voice software package, there was no contest.
The Other responses were “Google Hangouts” and “Whatever someone else says we should use.”
Compare that to the results of the poll I conducted in 2012:
- Ventrilo – 73 / 25%
- TeamSpeak – 70 / 24%
- Mumble – 57 / 19%
- Skype – 35 / 12%
- I never use voice – 29 / 10%
- Game Integrated – 23 / 8%
- Console Voice System (Xbox 360/PS3) – 4 / 1%
- Other – 3 / 1%
- I don’t regularly use voice at this time – 1
- raidcall – 1
- Steam – 1
That pre-dates Discord, which only kicked off in 2015, but it does show something of a shift.
Of course, neither poll is scientific and only represent the demographic of “people who read this blog and whose ad block software even allows the poll to be visible,” so isn’t provably reflective of the actual distribution of voice software usage out in the wild.
It is also impacted by, and reflective of, the downturn in traffic my blog has seen since that 2012 poll was taken, which happened around the my peak of popularity, such that it was. So only 147 people responded in 2020, while 2012 saw exactly (!) twice as many responses, clocking in with 294.
And yet, the lopsided win for Discord still says something. Discord is easy, cheap, and works. When the instance group got back together for WoW Classic we went straight to Discord as our platform of choice.
Yes, that was, in part, because I already had an account. But we all had Skype accounts as well, that being our preferred voice software back in the day, and Google Hangouts were a possibility as well, being the choice of the one-time Friday Night Strategy Game group.
Discord was just easy, has persistent group chat as well as voice, and has mobile clients as well. I pay for a monthly channel boost subscription, which is supposed to get us better voice quality among other things, but we didn’t have any problem before I did that.
A Discord server basically gives us so many options over the alternatives that it just seemed like the obvious choice.
The second poll question asked which voice software options people used regularly. It was a multiple select poll, so you could click on as many as you felt applied. The results for that were… odd.
The Other responses were, with one vote each:
- Google Hangouts
- MS Teams
- Microsoft Teams
- Facebook Messenger
- Nothing regularly but not nothing ever
Discord was still on top, but did not get as many votes as it did in the first poll.
There are a few possible explanations for this. Some people may have only votes on the first poll. Some may have felt that the second poll implied “aside from your primary” chosen in the first. And some people may have only voted in the second poll, feeling that they did not have a primary. Some combo of those, plus whatever else, may be in play here.
And it does show, again, a move away from what were the traditional voice hosting platforms back in the day, Ventrilo and TeamSpeak, at least in the “reads this blog and votes on polls” demographic.
- Ventrilo – 207 / 27%
- TeamSpeak – 177 / 23%
- Game Integrated – 115 / 15%
- Mumble – 108 / 14%
- Skype – 87 / 12%
- Console Voice System (Xbox 360/PS3) – 40 / 5%
- I still never use voice – 14 / 2%
- Other – 8 / 1%
- roger wilco 3
- Google+ 1
- ooVoo 1
- Tin cans and string 1
- Steam Integrated, Cellphone, Smoke signals 1
- But I will start to use voice for the first time when SOEmote starts. 1
I think I can spot the Bhagpuss answers in the “other” field on a couple of these.
So Discord “wins” I suppose. I am still not sure about their business model. They gave up the idea of competing with Steam as a game selling platform a while back. But the proliferation of Discord servers… is there any sizable company or group that doesn’t have at least a few dedicated to it… seems to indicate that they have the attention of a lot of people.
Anyway, that is my little report on the state of voice in gaming right now. We’ll see if I get back to it in another five years or so and who will be dominant at that point.