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Cross Game Voice Chat - Why the Delay?

PS3 gamers are divided into two camps. The “what good is cross game voice chat?” group and the “I want it now!” group. I am within the painted circle of the latter group. If you don’t know how nice 360 users have it with parties, then maybe I’d understand why you don’t care about voice chat. Or maybe you are a non-online gamer. I’d understand that too. However, if you play with friends online even on a semi-regular basis, then cross game voice chat is a feature you’re likely wanting. If only to be able to talk to friends in games that have a bad voice chat implementation (I’m looking at you Borderlands).

Frankly, I don’t want to have this feature so that I can play MW2 and talk to a friend who is playing Gran Turismo. No. I just want to be able to talk to my friends (a) reliably and (b) whether or not I’m in the same lobby as him. I want to get in a party with a friend and talk to him as the game is loading. I want to discuss what we’re going to play – what maps/tracks/modes/etc. And I don’t want the audio to drop out. When we leave a mode, I still want to be able to talk to him. And then when we switch games together, I want to be able to talk while in the XMB. Etc.

So there’s my motivation. You can see why I want cross game voice chat. I have to wonder why Sony is taking so long on this feature. I can see several reasons:

  1. Technical Difficulties
    Maybe the Sony engineers are having trouble shoe-horning cross game voice chat into an operating system that never had it. When you’re in a game and bring up the XMB, you can see how the interface chugs. Maybe adding voice chat to the SPU’s load is just too much. (Sony reserves one SPU for itself – the rest are available to the developer.)
  2. Political Difficulties
    Sure there are lots of us asking for cross game voice chat, but maybe there just aren’t enough of us. Or maybe Sony doesn’t think that it’ll sell any more systems or games. After all, they’re in this to make money, just like everyone else.
  3. Sony’s Getting it Right
    On the 360, you can set up a party and talk to the people in your party. Outside of any game. Then you can go from game to game with that party. Or within a game, you can stay in that party. Creating a cross-game party system is more than just creating a cross-game voice chat system. Maybe Sony wants to do it right and is working out all the software and legal ramifications.

Did I miss one? And which one is it? Frankly, I think it’s a mix of (1) and (2). I think they’re having difficulties making it work, and so the political motivation isn’t there to get it done.

And when am I getting a party system on the PS3?