Learn the Ins and Outs of Voice Chat Tools for Online Gaming

Coordinate your gameplay with others on the internet

Close up of hands on videogames joystick
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Playing games on the internet while interacting with a group of people you may or may not know expands the fun of gaming and adds a social component. Online gamers who want to enhance the multiplayer gaming experience use VoIP tools to communicate with their gaming friends. There are plenty of such tools, and most PC-to-PC VoIP tools will do, but some are made especially for gamers. Here are the ones preferred by most gamers.

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Teenage boy with gaming headset on playing video game

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What We Like
  • Use on multiple servers with one interface.

  • Uses text chat, voice, or video.

  • Link with several games and apps.

  • Launch some of your games through the app.

What We Don't Like
  • Video and audio chats can sometimes be a bit glitchy and difficult to set up.

  • Laggy servers can distort audio or video.

Discord comes with an impressive list of features that cover everything other VoIP services offer, and it is free to use. It uses one of the best codecs for VoIP, which makes voice communication smooth throughout your bandwidth-hungry games.

Features include encryption, in-game overlay, smart push notifications, multiple channels, and direct messaging. It is available as a standalone program for Windows, Macs, Linux, iOS, and Android, and it also runs in a browser, which means no installation is necessary to use the software.

Discord enjoys a high adoption rate and a large ecosystem of users. However, the software is closed source, and there is no plug-in system, so players who like to tweak the software to meet all their needs may prefer a different program.

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TeamSpeak 3

Screenshot of TEamspeak 3
What We Like
  • Available on most platforms.

  • Free to use.

  • Host your own server.

  • Manage personal contacts list.

What We Don't Like
  • Depending on the server, performance becomes slow with larger groups.

  • Interface could be daunting to beginners.

TeamSpeak 3 has long been at the top of the list of VoIP tools for online gaming because its voice quality and service are top-notch. It has many free servers and authorized providers around the world. As a result, you can host a server app and create a group of thousands of people. It is available free for Windows, Macs, and Linux systems and at low cost for iOS and Android mobile devices. You pay ongoing fees only if you derive monetary benefits, either directly or indirectly, from the use of the server. Otherwise, TeamSpeak 3 is free for nonprofit users. Getting started with TeamSpeak is fast and easy.

TeamSpeak 3 is popular among MMOs (massively multiplayer online game) players, and it offers a wide range of plug-ins for players who want to add additional functionality. Players need a private server to use TeamSpeak 3, and TeamSpeak offers to provide one for a fee. Several free public servers are available, but choosing to use one complicates the setup process.

TeamSpeak 3 introduced cloud-based services for players who want to store their identities, add-ons, and bookmarked servers in the cloud.

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Man with headset on playing computer game
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What We Like
  • Online tutorial to get you started.

  • Text or use voice.

  • Reliable security for chats.

  • Low overhead on computer resources.

What We Don't Like
  • Only supports Windows and Apple OS X platforms.

  • Must have server information to add.

  • No discovery of available servers.

Ventrilo works similarly to TeamSpeak, and it is widely used by gamers, but there are minor differences. Ventrilo is basic and has fewer features, but it has something that others don’t—its app is tiny and consumes few computer resources, which allows it to run smoothly on computers whose major load of resources goes to resource-greedy games. Also, Ventrilo requires little bandwidth for voice communications. 

Ventrilo includes a text chat tool for players who don't feel like talking. The online tutorial for new users is comprehensive and well designed. Ventrilo lacks a Linux client, but it supports all the other platforms. A server is required for use, and Ventrilo offers to rent its servers to players who don't already have one.

Ventrilo doesn't collect user data, and communications are always encrypted. All chat communications and audio recordings are saved only on the local client computer. 

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Teenager playing Fortnite video game on PC
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What We Like
  • Available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

  • Thorough audio setup wizard.

  • Browse available servers.

What We Don't Like
  • Need some technical knowledge to set up and use properly.

  • Only a 7-day free trial for servers.

  • Servers are costly to use.

Mumble offers low latency, high-quality voice and echo cancellations. It runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. An in-game overlay shows users in the channel or users talking. The overlay can be disabled on a per-game basis, allowing users to see the chat and not obstruct the gameplay.

Mumble is open source software and therefore free. This online chat tool is the client app, and it works with another app called Murmur, which is the server counterpart. You have to host the server app, but vendor sites offer the service for a monthly fee. Configuring the server requires some advanced technical skills.

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