Every once in a while the topic of voice chat with games comes up. This time Skronk mentioned it. And with that I wondered if it was time for another post about. It was time in 2007 and again in 2012 and I think it is time again now.
I am always interested in voice, first because I work in a related industry and there is overlap in tech and people and second because my online gaming history extends back to a point where voice was not an option. When I was playing Stellar Emperor back in 1986, I could be on the one phone line logged in or talking to somebody, but not both at once. So I have seen things evolve from there to using the phone system at the office for comms (back when IT would allow such things on the corporate network) to early voice software like Roger Wilco, to the hosted comms era when any decent guild or clan rented a TeamSpeak or Ventrilo server, to the time of Skype and game integrated voice, through to today.
Back in 2007 I put up a poll that had the following results:
Ventrilo (which I typo’d on in the poll, which is totally on brand for me) was the top dog back in 2007, though it was early in the history of the blog so the pool of results wasn’t very big. It was also the dawn of the game integrated voice using Vivox, so game integration was not that widely available (EVE Online, LOTRO, and DDO had it by then, but SOE games and WoW were a ways off still) which probably hurt its responses.
Skype was already four years old by then, but had added 5 person conferencing with the need of a server, so it was the voice platform of choice for the instance group back in the day.
There was also a mention in the comments of voice quality comparisons between Ventrilo and Team Speak, the two big dogs at the time. I am not sure if that is even a concern in 2020, but it was one back in the day.
I came back five years later with a double poll post, the first asking what was the PRIMARY voice application people used. That got the following results (tally/percent):
- 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
This being the peak era of the blog, the poll got 294 responses. In 2012 readership was still using Ventrilo and TeamSpeak, with Mumble not far behind, all server based voice platform solutions. Skype also had some users, while game integrated seemed to have come along. I think by this point it was part of WoW and fairly easy to use.
The second poll asked which voice applications people ever used. It allowed multiple selections and gave the following results:
- 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 2
- Google+ 1
- ooVoo 1
- Tin cans and string 1
- Roger Wilco 1
- Steam Integrated, Cellphone, Smoke signals 1
- But I will start to use voice for the first time when SOEmote starts. 1
A lot more people used game integrated voice at least as a secondary options it seemed. I was using Mumble for EVE Online, it being the Goonswarm platform. Skype was still the choice of the instance group. Google hangouts were a thing, and we even used that for our epic Civilization V game.
Also, I love the comment about SOEmote. I am sure that must have been Bhagpuss.
Which brings us to today, about seven years further down the road. Things have changed some. Microsoft bought Skype and made it progressively worse.
Some games dropped integrated voice options. EVE Online dropped the option as part of their March update two years back as part of their clearing of decks for the 64-bit conversion. That got us the new chat server architecture which has had so much trouble over the last two years that CCP is probably glad they ditched voice and the complications that would have come with it. (Though only 0.4% of players used it, so maybe nobody would have noticed.)
And a new player has come along in the form of Discord.
This is pretty much what prompted this post. Yes, there are some other additional players out there like Slack, but Discord feels a bit like a game changer. I first gave it a shot with the 2018 Blaugust and have stuck around with it ever since. It is light, easy to use, easy to manage, and has voice integrated… and is free. So when the instance group reformed for WoW Classic we didn’t bother trying to remember our Skype login credential, heading straight for Discord.
The only other voice app I use is Mumble, which remains the Goonswarm comms choice.
So I suppose a new decade means it is time for a new poll or two. So here, now, in 2020, what is your primary voice application? (Choose one)
And, just to emulated the 2012 poll, which voice applications do you use on a regular basis? (Choose all that apply)
This being the security age of the web, the two polls above may not appear if your ad blocker is on or if you have Firefox set to defensive mode.
The blog being back down in the 2007 range of popularity, I do not expect there will be a huge turnout. But I will be interested to see how people respond.
I am especially interested if you use game integrated voice. If you have a moment to pop into the comments and mention the related game or games you use it with, that would be great.
My answers are Mumble for the primary, because I am on it for every EVE Online fleet op, and Mumble and Discord for the regular basis response.