Dear Wii U Developers: You Don’t Need to Use the GamePad Touch Screen

I think Nintendo’s made a major misstep in its message for Wii U. When they unveiled the new Wii U GamePad, they spoke a lot about its capabilities – its dual-analog control with clickable sticks, its + Control Pad and ABXY configuration that has perfect parity with the “classic controller” configuration, added ZL and ZR triggers for maximum input options, and of course, its 16:9 touch screen.

What I came away with was: “Okay, so this controller offers people tons of options for how they want to develop and play their games.” But what third-party developers seem to have come away with was: “Okay, so now we have to figure out how to implement that added touch screen in some kind of interesting way, just like we did for Wii motion controls last generation.”

everything-nintendo-land-luigimansioncreenWhat’s going on here? Why are there such different takeaways as far as the philosophy that drives the Wii U GamePad? Most players who have settled down with the controller seem to share the same impressions that I do: the GamePad’s touch screen is great for games that are designed for it, a potential enhancement for multi-platform games, and always, always, always useful simply as a way to pull games off the TV.

Sure, it’s nice to see a well-done inventory or map screen, or games that can be satisfyingly controlled largely or even purely by touch. But when it boils down to it, the real benefit of the GamePad is not so much in finding specific ways to use its screen, but in the wide range of potential uses for it, from those added features to simple Off-TV Play.

Let’s face it – the best games in Nintendo Land don’t emphasize heavy use of touch or even motion control. They’re the ones that focus on offering a second screen that operates completely apart from the main TV.

Developers shouldn’t have to work within a kind of tunneled mindset that forces them to put the screen to use in gameplay – the GamePad’s still perfectly usable as a standard controller. People who want to play those multi-platform games don’t need all those extra touch control features – do you really think they wouldn’t be interested in the game without them? Wii U owners are fine with simple Off-TV Play, especially when it allows for local multiplayer without split-screen. They just want content to enjoy on their new system – a system that for many of them marks the first time they’ll have access to an HD games library.

Wii-U-pro-controller-forcedThere’s a reason why that thing called the “Wii U Pro Controller” exists. It’s because there’s a bunch of people who might not want to use that fancy touch controller at all. If Wii U lets you make your games for the Pro Controller, certainly you could make your games run without using any major touch screen features, even if someone chooses to use the GamePad, right? And, again, Nintendo intentionally gave the GamePad all the same buttons and sticks that are found on the Pro Controller because they specifically don’t want developers feeling as though they have to use fancy gimmicks to make a game work on the system.

So, developers – don’t force yourselves to use hardware features that you don’t feel can be put to valuable use in your games. Wii U owners don’t need fancy gameplay gimmicks: they just want to play. It’s better for you to focus on delivering a game that’s solid at its core. You know it, Nintendo knows it: that’s why they’ve given you all the tools you need to make your game run on Wii U completely gimmick-free, and even given consumers everything they need to play as part of the standard package. There’s no excuse not to take advantage of the easy way out Nintendo’s practically begging for you to use to put more of your games on their systems.

  • Ibi Salmon

    THANK YOU! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who realized this! Developers don’t have to use the gamepad screen if they don’t need to. If they have an interesting idea that requires the touchscreen, then that’s great. If not, that’s perfectly fine! No pressure! That’s what the pro controller is for.

    Alex Plant, whomever you are, thank you so much for writing this.

  • fused_shadows

    My thoughts exactly.

  • Erimgard

    I cringe anytime I hear a developer use the GamePad as an excuse not to bring a game to the Wii U. The Pro Controller is fantastic, and the GamePad has all the same functionality of a “normal” controller anyway.

    Just like with the 3DS, too many developers feel like they HAVE to use the “gimmick” when they don’t.

    • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.lefebvre.161 Aaron Lefebvre

      3D isn’t a gimmick at all for the 3DS.. So many games have proven that having 3D gives a cool experience. I guess if you have bad eyes, and look at it for long, you can see it as a gimmick, but i can play with 3D all day without hurting my eyes. Its a really cool way to play. Aslo i am pretty sure the Gamepad is NOT a gimmick.. It gives literally tons of new ways to play games.. Only things that do not work is a gimmick, and both the gamepad, and 3DS works perfectly.

      • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

        “its a really cool way to play”

        Isn’t that what makes it a gimmick?

      • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

        I think you’ve misunderstood the definition of “gimmick”.

  • zdog

    Thank you! This is all I could think of when reading about Tomb Raider not coming to Wii U. Hello Pro Controller?!

  • http://memecarteles.tumblr.com/ Agumon_Ql_Solo [Lvl 7]

    Just don’t use the second screen, and then, you can shout off the TV and play in the gamepad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.lefebvre.161 Aaron Lefebvre

    I disagree on at least having a way to play with the gamepad. Nintendo made the gamepad to innovate gaming, and try to find new ways to play. So if every multiplatform is exactly the same as the PS4, or 720 will be, then why bother buying a Wii-U (unless you bought it for the 1st party games like me). They need to innovate gameplay for multiplatformers so the Wii-U will have an edge over the other consoles, giving an experience the others don’t. Right now they weren’t ready for the Wii-U, and couldn’t implement the game to the gamepad fast enough, or the way they wanted to, but now that the console has been out long enough for other developers to see it, and try to work with it. The new games coming out this, and next month won’t be on the Wii-U, but by spring every game should be releasing on the Wii-U as well.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      “So if every multiplatform is exactly the same as the PS4, or 720 will be, then why bother buying a Wii-U (unless you bought it for the 1st party games like me).”

      Because you want to play games that don’t use the hardware gimmick?

      • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.lefebvre.161 Aaron Lefebvre

        It isn’t a “gimmick”, someone who doesn’t own the console cannot comment on whether it is a gimmick or not. The console has literally an infinite amount of possibilities to change the way gamers play. I have thought of many different genres, and games that could be better, or just fun to play on the Wii-U. They could literally make an RTS on the Wii-U using the gamepad to control units with your finger, and using the analog to scroll through the map. Endless possibilities. The console has only been out for 3 months, nobody can say anything about the Wii-U failing, especially seeing how the Wii sold incredibly well. The 360, and PS3 launches were horrible, filled with sports, and racing games. The only decent games at their launch was Perfect Dark Zero on the 360, and Resistance Fall of Man ont he PS3 ( which looked like a PS2 game.), Plus the 360 had RROD left and right, while the PS3 cost $600 at launch, which made all the consoles seem like they were up for failure, but now they are 10x better. So trying to comment on a console that 1. You do not have. 2. Has only been out for 3 months is outrageous, especially now that they just had loads of amazing announcements this past week. Also if you only buy consoles based on their hardware, you are doing it WRONG.

    • http://www.facebook.com/clayton.williams.967 Clayton Williams

      i dont see every xbox game using kinect

      • http://www.facebook.com/clayton.williams.967 Clayton Williams

        do you want another kinect starwars?

  • http://www.facebook.com/clayton.williams.967 Clayton Williams

    this is the reason tomb raider isnt coming to the wii u, because square enix felt they had to use the gamepad, they dont need to. i bought my wii u for the first party games but i enjoy multiplatform games to fill in the time between nintendo games( which is usually a good amount of months between). if its multiplatform it dosnt have to use the special thing, like you dont see FF13 using the kinect or the ps3 motion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/clayton.williams.967 Clayton Williams

      and developers should tag on the screen if its going to not improve the gameplay or give it some usefull functionallity

  • http://twitter.com/RPGFan2k Stealth

    another shitty article

    • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

      If you don’t like the articles, then just leave. Why are you even commenting?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001759639093 Kristin Laflin

    I agree with this. If the developer has an interesting way to use the GamePad (ZombiU), please, use it. Otherwise, just give us an inventory screen/Off-TV play option, and the ability to switch to the Pro controller.