Five years after launching the Playstation 3, Sony has admitted that the system is not technically capable of cross-game voice chat.
Cross-game voice chat is the ability to speak with multiple players at the same time, regardless of what they’re doing on the console. On Xbox Live, it’s one of my favorite features, because allows you to coordinate a play session with a friend with ease or have a conversation while playing different games.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said memory restrictions preclude the PS3 from ever having cross-game voice chat. Games gobble up all of system’s available RAM, leaving none for voice chat at the OS level.
“Once a game gets RAM we never give it back,” Yoshida said. “It’s not possible to retrofit something like that after the fact.”
Sony wasn’t always so pessimistic about the possibility of cross-game voice chat. In 2009, Sony Europe’s James Thrope told a reader on the official Playstation blog that “as soon as I hear from ‘up top’ I will be shouting about it and making myself the most popular person on the blog.” Last year, a Playstation blog post acknowledged that PS3 users are passionate about the feature, and said “we’ll continue to look at as a viable offering for the PlayStation Network.”
From those comments, it sounds like Sony tried to implement the feature, but couldn’t make it happen. And yet Yoshida’s comments make it sound like the feature was never technically possible in the first place. In any case, Yoshida says cross-game voice chat will be available in the Playstation Vita handheld. At least Sony realizes it’s too good of a feature to ignore in future hardware.