Let's Just Drop This Stupid Idea That The Gamepad Should Go Away...


Here to stay...

Ok, Nintendo released an update for the Wii U recently (Version 5.1.0) in which two main things were added: the ability to move content from one Wii U to another and the ability to use the eShop with a Wii Remote, Pro Controller, or Classic Pro Controller now instead of JUST the GamePad as it had been since launch. 

This of course has started up the people claiming this is the final "sign" that Nintendo will, and for some reason HAS TO, remove the Gamepad in order to properly run and sell the Wii U.

I'm here to point out how much "BS" that actually is.  Let us begin.

First off, the GamePad is an integral part of the idea behind the Wii U, as well as a functional part of its identity. The Wii U is not some "powerhouse" as compared to the Xbox One and Playstation 4, but it does bring a unique perspective to how you interact with your games that those systems can't imitate and this is lost when the GamePad is removed.  You end up with a system which is just a mid step more powerful between the Playstation 3 and the Xbox One and lose what makes the Wii U the Wii U to begin with instead of just an HD Wii.

To remove the Gamepad is to alienate the millions of units (and thus owners) that have already been sold along with any developer that had any interest in actually using the GamePad in any way.  When a device is an option, it RARELY becomes something 99% of developers want to support.  Sadly to innovate they basically have to be forced into it and they have shown it.  Devices like the Playstation Move, the original Kinect, and now even the Kinect 2.0 have become pointless as developers don't want to waste time and money on something that isn't guaranteed to be present for all consumers.  The Kinect 2.0 was becoming more useful as it was integrated into the OS along with many developers starting to come up with functions for it, but as soon as Microsoft made it optional, a number of developers stated that they were dropping support for it instead of continuing on. Developers from companies like Harmonix came out with disappointment because the games they were developing for the existing kinect that every Xbox One had now will only have a shrinking group to play it instead of a growing one.  Nintendo is aware of this by stating again and again they are not dropping the GamePad.

Secondly are the games that already use the GamePad in traditional and unique ways, both of which count as something other systems can't do.  Games have been made that outright require the GamePad for different mechanics, have it as required for particular modes, or have it set as an expanded way to play the titles beyond what is available on other systems.  Even the simple use of moving map, HUD, and other information to the GamePad instead of taking up screen space or requiring you to pause and remove yourself from the game just to swap something has been a welcome change.  The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD showed this off well as you could swap items on the fly and always had a map up while sailing so you knew where you were going at all times. 

At E3 2014 Nintendo went out of their way to show how the GamePad would be used for their current and future plans for both game related content as well as connecting other things to the console through it.  Japan has already started using the NFC (Near Field Communication) that is built into every GamePad to allow consumers to make purchases easily by simply tapping the controller.  Their "amiibo" line of NFC toys will also debut this year, starting with Super Smash Bros for Wii U, and will require the GamePad to connect and exchange data for multiple games that are either already out (Mario Kart 8 will support these) as well as a list of games coming this year and in the future.  Even the most recent game announcements in Japan for the Fatal Frame series are integrated directly with the use of the GamePad.  Why push so hard for something just to thrown it all away?  Making the argument that they are going to do that just seems to get worse and worse as these come to light in my opinion. 

If the GamePad was removed, other features would be removed as well from games or how the system operates.  The camera, NFC pad, controller based motion, microphone, and even the GamePad speakers which have been used to directly talk to the player apart from the TV would all have to go away or be replaced with more accessories to develop, sell, and be bought.  People argue that NFC could easily be another add on like Skylanders or the small one being made for 3DS, but why would you remove something to "save money" and then turn around and spend money just to get that one thing back by itself and have another accessory laying around to keep track of?  

Not bad for a touchscreen!The biggest change I believe though would be the complete death of the Miiverse community.  The art and connection people make for and to eachother would go away as less and less people had the GamePad while trying to use this system.  Messages would just be typed in, no longer expressed through hand written notes or ideas as more and more time would go on.  And with the use of the GamePad for art as a means of expression, I have been able to communicate ideas to, and understand what others mean, much better than just trying to type or talk as we don't all speak the same language.  

Can't make this with just an analog stick...

And let's talk about the elephant in the room for many people which is the Off-Tv play.  I hear how many people say it is worthless, that you should play these games ONLY on a TV.  And you know what, I am sure that may be true for some folks.  You don't use the GamePad for that, but MANY others do.  My daughter uses it to play games because it gives her a way to see the TV which has expanded her experience from starting with New Super Luigi U all the way up to Super Smash Bros. Brawl matches with her brothers.  I have seen military members buy it as a means to play their games while on TDY or overseas because a TV is just not a reasonable option. I have seen people travel to places and play the system in cars, pictures of people using them on trains, and even members of the gaming press using them in airports to play Pikmin 3 while they wait. 

That simple feature has changed fundamentally how many gamers experience their games...finally on their own terms.  Even for me as I can now get to bed at a more reasonable time by unwinding in bed while finishing a level, to throw my Netflix to the GamePad and go cook in the kitchen while I watch, or to share videos with my kids on the TV while I also manage my bank accounts or research a new podcast.  All of this is done because of the GamePad. 

In conclusion I have to point out again how Nintendo themselves made huge arguments for their direct support of the Gamepad with the games and ideas shown off at E3, while some third party (and especially indie) developers have really taken the GamePad only ideas to heart for new ways to play their games.  Many cool ideas are here, with more coming.  But if they get rid of it, the system will stagnate and be nothing more than a step up from a Playstation 3 instead of the unique system of this 8th generation of consoles.  And if people want to argue choice, then they should realize that they could simply choose to not use the GamePad when it is an option, but to take it away forces their "choice" onto those of us that want the GamePad around for good.