Nintendo has a strict policy about how it approaches online content, and that policy won't be changing for Splatoon. The upcoming multiplayer shooter for Wii U won't support voice chat. The reason? Because people online are mean.
Edge Magazine interviewed the game's co-director, Yusuke Amano, about Splatoon's lack of online voice chat. Here's what he had to say:
This is coming from personal experience. [...] When I played online games, I didn't like the negativity I got and people telling me, 'You're crap. Go away.' So we wanted to focus on the positive aspects of online gaming.
Removing the ability to speak to other people in order to cut down on negativity is one way of tackling the problem, but it also means that teams can't really communicate. For games like Mario Kart 8 or Nintendo Land, voice communication may not be an absolute necessity. But Splatoon is a team-based shooter where teamwork and reaction times are key. Being able to communicate with teammates seems like a given, but the feature has been axed.
Several players have suggested that Nintendo add an option for users to enable voice chat in the menu. If Nintendo feels strongly about limiting toxicity, an off button seems like an easy solution. I imagine gamers who want to team up with friends and play strategically and competitively will have a tough time doing so without communication.
However, it is understandable that Nintendo would like to shield the average gamer from some of the more aggressive and raucous individuals online. Limiting the online communication in Splatoon to protect people and cut down on toxicity makes sense, but it's a double-edged sword.
Maybe Splatoon is just catering to the casual crowd, and by limiting communication, Nintendo can cut down on some of the harsh language that comes with highly intense games like Call of Duty and Battlefield.
If you're not familiar with Splatoon, here's the rundown: It's is a third-person shooter where players turn into squids and move around the stage as fast as possible to complete the designated objective. In order to use the squid feature, players will have to paint the ground or walls with their paint gun. Most of the game's focus is on the turf wars, where one group of players will attempt to paint as much of the arena as possible before time runs out. The team who covers more wall space in paint wins.
There's also a single-player mode, but the details are kind of scarce. Splatoon is scheduled for a May 29th release, exclusively on the Wii U.