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Looking deeper at the consoles post launch: The Wii U GamePad

Wii U Screenshot - Looking deeper at the consoles post launch: The Wii U GamePad

You can’t think about the Wii U without thinking about its GamePad. After all, the unique controller is its defining feature. So how is it shaping up after launch?

As it turns out, the best use for the Wii U’s GamePad is Off TV play.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, though. The thing is huge and uncomfortable during extended hours, leaving my preferred controller of choice to be the Pro Controller; it’s what I use whenever possible. But given the history of the DS, we shouldn’t entirely be surprised by this turn of events.

After some unique uses for the DS’s bottom touch screen, it was eventually resigned to be both an extension of the gameplay as well as an extra place to store additional relevant information. The same is slowly but surely becoming true with the Wii U’s GamePad. It’s not quite a necessity for games, instead focusing on becoming an accessory.

Given this, it’s not hard to understand why the Wii U is having a hard time making a dent in the marketplace. Could you imagine Nintendo releasing an HD console at a price point of, say, $199? The GamePad made such a thought impossible, with Nintendo instead banking on hitting lightning in a bottle twice when it comes to innovative controllers.

As history as told us, they haven’t been able to do that, partially because they’ve lacked a Wii Sports type killer app. Despite the enjoyment traditional gamers have found with Nintendoland, it hasn’t resonated with the casual impulse-buy audience. So what then would have worked? Perhaps a puzzle game similar to what many are playing on their phones. Nintendo Crush Saga, if you will, could have been a clever way to get a coveted demographic to upgrade from the Wii to the Wii U, but it ultimately wouldn’t have stopped the system’s biggest issue: the fact that some people continue to view the GamePad as an accessory to the Wii.

That’s a fact that, unfortunately, continues to this day, because Nintendo has yet to fully demonstrate an ability to differentiate the two for non-informed audiences.

Oh, and it certainly doesn’t help that the more “traditional” gamer crowd isn’t quite on board with a touch screen on their controller. Though, Off-TV play is nice, but that shouldn’t be the selling point of a controller. 

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Jake Valentine
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