The Wii U GamePad does everything. It has a touchscreen and a camera and even a built-in microphone. Unfortunately, that microphone won’t be able to do, you know, microphony stuff.
According to Nintendo, the built-in GamePad microphone will be unusable for voice chat in multiplayer games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Assassin’s Creed III, and Mass Effect 3. Oh, voice chat will be enabled in all of these games, you just won’t be able to use the GamePad’s mic for it. Instead, you will have to plug an entirely different headset into the GamePad’s microphone jack in order to make use of the Wii U’s voice chat capabilities. Screwy right?
Now, many of you may be thinking that this is because the Wii U Pro Controller, the traditional Wii U controller that looks a bit like a cousin of the Xbox 360 controller, doesn’t have a built-in mic. Well, you would be right, except there’s one other problem: The Pro controller doesn’t have a microphone jack either. So you can’t even use voice chat if you are using a Pro Controller. Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. You could plug your headset into the GamePad, which you aren’t even using, and then use the Pro Controller. Which just seems needlessly complicated.
The last hope for gamers lies in the Wii U’s Bluetooth capabilities. This should allow the Wii U to connect to Bluetooth gaming headsets, though this still means you have to purchase an extra peripheral when your controller has a microphone built right into it. What’s even more depressing is that Nintendo won’t even be making first-party headsets. You will instead have to pick up an officially licensed third-party headset instead from developers like Mad Catz.
As of now, we don’t really know why Nintendo’s policy toward voice chat is so complicated. It may have something to do with their ongoing commitment toward being a family friendly console. Of course, this commitment was also the thing that brought us “friend codes,” and friend codes almost single-handedly held back the Wii’s online multiplayer capabilities. These strange voice chat policies may do the same.