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Will Proximity Voice Chat Become An Integral Part Of MMOs In The Future?

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First of all, while I love MMOs, I haven't been playing them much over the past 5 or so years, especially the big ones (WOW, ESO, etc.- save for GW2 briefly.) Therefore, I'm unaware of whether some of these popular MMOs do have proximity voice chat available and whether it is even used much. For those who do know, I'd love to know more about it.

As I said earlier, I haven't been playing MMOs much over the past 5 or so years, but I have been playing a lot of FPS games, particularly tactical ones (think games like Arma 3, Squad, Project Reality mod for Battlefield 2, Insurgency, Red Orchestra, etc.)

Project Reality and Squad in particular have proximity voice chat as a basic feature in their games, and I've always found it interesting how easy it made communication leading to high levels of teamwork and coordination. It also made basic socializing very easy too. It's not uncommon to hear all kinds of banter while walking, driving, or flying to an objective in these games, which makes the downtime during lulls in combat or doing mundane tasks like building fortifications and stationary weapons far more interesting. Other examples of FPS games that have similar features are Arma 3 and Planetside 2.

I've always wondered why MMOs don't have a feature like this. Sure it could get annoying with a city full of players all spamming their mics at once, but this can be fixed with channels and decreasing the range of people's voices- right? Is it a cost thing that keeps more developers from adding this feature to their games? Are most MMO players just uninterested in using such a feature? I mean things like Teamspeak have fulfilled most voice chat requirements someone might have in an MMO, and newer apps like Discord do that too, even more effectively than Teamspeak.

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However, I think there are some ways MMOs could benefit from having proximity voice chat as a feature. I'll list some below…

  • Socializing in MMOs would be more convenient and more incentivized
    • It's far easier to chat over VOIP while doing keyboard intensive tasks, like fighting mobs (which I'd argue is the bulk of modern MMOs,) rather than using text-chat.
      • Things like dynamic world quests and open world PVP are easier to do with other random players, since you can organize where necessary more quickly through VOIP, rather than text-chat, and there's no outside apps (like Teamspeak or Discord) required.
      • Players may segregate themselves less, since random players can always talk to each other with ease. Even if some random players are mixed in with a bunch of players from a guild with their own Discord/Teamspeak serve, during an event, they'll still be able to communicate effectively in-game.
      • Making light banter and small talk is easier this way too.
    • No need to worry about stopping what you're doing to talk to someone or help a newer player out, since you can just tell them while continuing what you're doing.

So do you guys think proximity voice chat will become an integral part of MMOs in the future? Why or why not?

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