Elder Scrolls Online and the turbulent topic of text chat on console
Zenimax tells us it's looking into a "quick chat" system.
What there wasn't, in the recent Elder Scrolls Online console closed beta, was the option to chat via text. That's unusual for a massively-multiplayer online game but not for a console game.
Instead, there's proximity-based voice chat - that is, when you're in talking distance of someone, you can talk to them via a microphone.
Problem is, there's an expectation in MMOs - because of their history - of being able to text chat. This is further complicated by being able to do exactly that in The Elder Scrolls Online on PC and Mac.
Discussions on Reddit and The Elder Scrolls Online console beta forum stretch for pages about the pros and cons of text chat. Some people are happy with proximity-based voice chat only, while others fear lack of text chat will hinder trading and grouping - among other things - and will make busy city hubs unbearable because of all the voice chatter.
But what really tied people in a knot was game developer Zenimax Online Media saying there would be support for text chat via USB keyboards and then changing its mind.
Case in point, community coordinator Jason Leavy first saying this on 16th April:
Then, a day later, saying this:
He apologised for any misinformation and confusion.
But he wasn't the only one building people's hopes up. In January, lead gameplay designer Nick Konkle said this:
More recently, on 17th April, the game's support page was updated to say this:
I took this to Zenimax Online Studios to see if I could get both clarification and an explanation. Elder Scrolls Online game director Matt Firor replied and said this:
Could he be talking about a quick menu with pre-written, common phrases? Remember, there's still more than a month to go until The Elder Scrolls Online comes out on PS4 and Xbox One (9th June), and online games are frequently altered. Such a feature could make it in time for launch.
Nevertheless, this does pose a problematic question for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.