Gamers do the VoIP (Voice-over-IP) thing a lot because it’s easier to talk rather than type because the hands are busy playing whatever game is being played. While there are many ways to do VoIP (Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, etc.), the problem is that most VoIP servers cost money. A 15-user Ventrilo server for example is 6 bucks a month. Cheap, yes, but whenever there’s an opportunity to get VoIP working the free way, gamers will go for it.
Skype conferencing is free and allows group voice chatting with up to 25 other Skype users. But the big question is, would this work for gaming?
In a word, no.
There are two major reasons why Skype conferencing isn’t such a good idea for gaming.
Reason #1: Bandwidth
As far as I’m aware, when you host a Skype conference, you’re the one providing the bandwidth to all the other participants. This presents an immediate problem because now you’ve got both Skype and your online game clawing for bandwidth.
It is absolutely required that if you host a Skype conference that you must have a very high upstream, as downstream is not the issue. However if all you have is a "standard" broadband package (which for most people in the US is "10 down, 1 up"), your will experience bandwidth choke.
The general rule of thumb for hosting Skype conference is this: Whoever has the most upstream and downstream hosts the conference.
If you do have one of those 10 down/1 up type of ISP accounts, the most you’ll be able to host before experiencing choke is 3 to 4 users. At 5 or 6, it’s choke city.
Tip: To minimize bandwidth choke, have all participants set their voice quality to the lowest possible setting to use the least bandwidth.
Reason #2: Skype, generally speaking, is not gamer-friendly
While true that Skype does have a push-to-talk feature:
…this doesn’t mean that Skype is all of a sudden the preferred choice over Ventrilo and TeamSpeak.
Skype in the latest 5.8 version is a beast of an app. You basically can’t run it without seeing at least 100,000 K used in the Task Manager (starts at 85,000 but jumps to over 100,000 quickly), whereas the traditional VoIP apps use a whole lot less.
Skype also tries to shove a whole lot of "social" down your throat, which is a huge turn-off for many.
When you combine that with conference calling bandwidth issues, you are generally better off coughing up 6 bucks a month for a true Vent or TS third-party server.
This is not to say you shouldn’t try Skype as a free alternative, but don’t be surprised if doesn’t exactly work the way you expected for voice conferencing during gameplay.
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