Nintendo tells developer to stay away from Wii Speak

Posted by Mike Luttrell

It's not often that a company would specifically deter other companies from using its products, but that's exactly what happened between Nintendo and a developer of an upcoming online Wii game.

The developer of the upcoming Conduit 2, High Voltage, talked about Nintendo's advice in a recent interview. "Nintendo told us to not use WiiSpeak," said the company's chief creative officer Eric Nofsinger.

Wii Speak was introduced with the Wii version of Animal Crossing. Marketed as a new way to communicate online, the device site on top of the player's TV and records all sound in the room. The idea was to create a more social experience for online gaming, instead of one where each player was tethered to a headset.

However, for Conduit 2, it looks like even Wii players will be tethered after all. Third-party peripheral maker PDP introduced a headset called the Headbanger, which is more like a traditional headset that Xbox 360 and PS3 users have been using for some time. High Voltage will be encouraging Conduit 2 players to use this device instead of Wii Speak.

"We have a Rival system that allows you play with people who aren't just your friends and it will be chat-enabled using the upcoming Headbanger headset. Not the greatest name but it's actually a pretty good device," said Nofsinger.

One of Nintendo's biggest weaknesses in this console cycle is its lack of a strong online community. To play a Wii or DS game online, players must go through a tedious "friend code" process, and even then there are scant few games that even offer in-game chat.

And yet, Nintendo seems uninterested in creating a rival to Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. By essentially just letting a third-party peripheral take over the job of its own Wii Speak, it demonstrates just how far behind the times the company is when it comes to online gaming.