When the Wii U was first announced back in 2011, one of the first questions we had was whether or not the new console supported more than one of the tablet-like GamePad controllers. Quite literally, it was our first question. It took about a week or so, but the answer coming from Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata was that the Wii U was designed with one GamePad in mind.
It seemed like an odd choice. The GamePad is not only a selling point for the Wii U, it is a device that is crammed full of potential we haven’t even dreamed up. Beyond that, from a business point of view it made sense that Nintendo would be interested in selling another new device for a decent chunk of cash.
Then recently it was confirmed that the console would in fact support two GamePads per system. It would only accept two and no more, but it did have the potential for dual support. Apparently, that is academic.
In an interview following the Nintendo event, IGN caught up with Nintendo President and COO Reggie Fils-Amie, and asked how much the GamePad would cost. The answer was none. Because it won’t be on sale for the foreseeable future.
“We have deliberately not announced the availability of the GamePad as a separate, standalone accessory here in the United States,” Fils-Aime told IGN’s Richard George. “The reason for that is simple – there are no games in the launch window that take advantage of a second GamePad. And [because of that], I want all of that hardware production to be focused on driving sales at retail.
“What I mean by that is that Wii U is a console and a GamePad together. If I were to take additional GamePads and make them available as an accessory, then I would have less Wii U console hardware to sell into retail. You know, probably one of your questions is whether I’m going to meet demand. The only way we’re going to achieve that here in the Americas is to not have that GamePad accessory, so I can maximize my overall volume.”
That does raise the question of what happens if your GamePad breaks. Presumably you will need to either buy a new Wii U, or call Nintendo directly to arrange to purchase a replacement or set up a repair.
With the functionality in place, this could certainly change in the future, and you have to think that eventually someone will come up with an idea that will take advantage of two GamePads at once. If so, you have to wonder which developer is going to be bold enough to require a presumably expensive piece of hardware that Nintendo doesn’t want to sell. In other words, don’t expect to see additional GamePads on sale any time soon.