After it pretty much stopped being used by anyone, Nintendo has said it will extremely scale back availability of the Wii Speak peripheral and is instead encouraging gamers to use third-party products.
Wii Speak was to be Nintendo’s version of the standard online chat headsets widely used on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Nintendo argued that online play should be an entire living room experience, so Wii Speak was designed to sit on top of the TV and capture sound from the entire room. It came bundled with Animal Crossing: City Folk.
Of course, it quickly became obvious that such a set-up was only conducive to, well, Animal Crossing: City Folk. Pretty much no other games got extra value from it. Nintendo even began encouraging developers of more typical online games to use a third-party headset instead of Wii Speak.
Now, the company will reportedly widely scale back on shipments of the device, making it available to “limited retail locations” only, and will add new stock “if consumer demand increases” but not under any other circumstance.
This just further highlights how backwards Nintendo is when it comes to online gaming. To chat with someone in most Wii games, you need to meet up with them in real life (or online somewhere else), exchange friend codes, arrange via some other method when to go online, and then use the Wii Remote’s controls to enter messages. On the 360/PS3, you can basically just hop onto a game, make a friend, and then start sending invites no matter what other game he or she is playing. But that’s a discussion for another day.