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WOW voice chat needs a "revamp"

Blizzard "not super proud" of it.

Say voice chat to a World of Warcraft player and they'll answer TeamSpeak or Ventrilo - what they won't say is, "I use the inbuilt WOW voice chat and it's brilliant!"

But that could change.

"We have the voice chat we built and to be honest, are not super proud of," lead systems designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street told Eurogamer. You may recognise him as the voice of class balance.

"[Voice chat] came out and we don't think it's widely used, and we need at some point to get in there and revamp that."

An anecdote then sprang to mind: "One day, we kept getting bug reports that voice chat had gone down in Spain. We thought, that's odd, what would cause it to go down in Spain and not the rest of the world?

"And it had gone down in the rest of the world - but the Spanish were the only ones who were using it, so they're the only ones who noticed!"

With a worldwide colossus like World of Warcraft, Blizzard needs to be sensitive to regional variation. Take today's launch of third expansion Cataclysm, for example, it wasn't just the US and Europe that welcomed the game - Argentina, Chile, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand also joined the party. And on Thursday, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau will follow suit.

Being present in all of those places has made Greg Street "aware" of a few "regional differences".

"One example," he said, "is this phenomenon - I think it started in Korea - of gold DKP [Dragon Kill Points, a system for fair distribution of loot in a raid], where a PUG [pick-up group] raid will get together and then they will bid on the treasures that drop – so players who don't get the treasures at least get a little bit of gold out of that.

"It's spread now; I've seen it on European and North American servers."

Often, Eastern developers tinker with their games to bring them West, and NCsoft's Aion is a perfect example of this. But Blizzard, on the other hand, tampers not.

"We've had a lot of meetings about that," he said. "How do we know what the magic changes we would do for Korea to make it super popular there are?"

"We're not sophisticated enough to know exactly, oh Chinese players like this, and French players like this, and Latin American players like this.

"We basically give them the game," he shrugged, although he acknowledged that Blizzard has made alterations in China, particularly to WOW's business model.

Generally, though "players are players and they're looking for the same thing", Street has observed.

The full interview with World of Warcraft's Greg Street - the wheat to this chafe, if you like - can be found elsewhere on Eurogamer.

Oh hey look, it's Deathwing. You hoo, hey, over here!