The Wii U generation had a lot of potential, but its life was ultimately cut short by the console’s dismal sales. The ability to use not just one, but two GamePads simultaneously to play allowed players to group up for some dual-screen action, but this feature was never developed further.
Nintendo acknowledged the possibility, but many people are still perplexed as to why this feature was never implemented. Reggie Fils-Aimé, the former president of Nintendo of America, went into more detail about this in a recent interview with the YouTube channel MinnMax. Technically speaking, a Wii U could support multiple GamePads communicating with it, but other factors, including the system’s install base, lifespan, and the lack of any original games or concepts for such a feature, also played a role. Here is the entire conversation:
MinnMax: Everyone questioned you when you first unveiled the Wii U: Can we use multiple Wii U GamePads? What was that like from your perspective? And eventually, it was interesting because the messaging just came out and you [Nintendo] all said “yeah, yeah, absolutely you can, here we go”… and it was never asked again, and I’m not sure if it was ever implemented.
Reggie: What was interesting was that the Wii U had a complete development plan for all the intriguing interactions and intriguing things it was capable of, so in that case, could a Wii U technically communicate with multiple GamePads? The answer was “yes,” but the install base was never big enough to justify that kind of implementation. The Wii U’s lifespan was so brief that development simply never got off the ground, and most importantly, the company didn’t create a game where you needed a second GamePad to have a great experience. For those initiatives to materialize (at least from Nintendo’s perspective), there needs to be a game that drives that implementation and allows the player to understand why you would need a second GamePad as an example.
So, there you have it. It boils down to the low install base, short lifespan, and the typical situation where the feature needs to be properly utilized in a game in order to be supported. Reggie’s latest book provides even more information about Nintendo’s Wii U generation if you’re interested:
Would you have preferred to see this feature introduced? Did you personally support Nintendo during the Wii U era? Post your comment below.