Nintendo is to add a social chat function to its Wii games console that enables whole rooms of people to chat to other Nintendo Wii-owning friends.
The Nintendo Wii Speak will work over the free Wii Wi-Fi connection that is currently used to enable multi-player gaming with groups of farflung friends. However, anyone within earshot of one Wii console will be able to chat to anyone else the Nintendo Wii console is linked up to.
Nintendo Wii Speak can connect up to four Wii games consoles at once. According to the press announcement, 'Wii Speak can be connected directly to the console and pick up the conversations from an entire room of people, meaning friends and families can all get involved in conversations, sharing gaming and social experiences together'.
Rather than simply functioning as an alternative way of making and receiving free phone calls, Nintendo intends the chat function to become part of the way games fans interact with friends. Accessible from the main Wii menu, the Speak Channel will allow up to four consoles to connect at once and to share photos and exchange text messages as well as to chat, all for free.
Nintendo already encourages Wii users to create their own Mii avatar and this cartoon version of the user will now be given the power of apparent speech.
Nintendo is, of course, tying in this speech function with the games at the heart of its Wii console. Wii Speak will be an integral part of the soon to launch Animal Crossing: Let's Go To The City and will allow players to share words they have created for their animal characters.
Nintendo Wii Speak Channel will launch across Europe on 5 December. Pricing for the Wii Speak module has not yet been announced.