Nintendo Wants To Re-Convince You The Wii U Gamepad Is Cool

Nintendo has been having a bit of a tough time communicating just what the Wii U is all about. In particular, the company still seems unable to clearly articulate just why the Wii U's gamepad -- a combination game-controller and touchscreen -- makes their system worth buying. Perhaps, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata suggests, it's time for some new ideas.

In an E3 analyst briefing recently translated and posted to Nintendo's site, Iwata explains the problems they've come across when selling one of the Wii U's most important features: Asymmetric gameplay.

Asymmetric gameplay, or the potential for it, is one of the neatest things about the Wii U. You can play local multiplayer games without needing everyone to see the same screen. Therefore, it's possible to play games like some of the minigames included in Nintendo Land, where, say, one player will control a ghost via the controller's screen, invisible on the TV. Meanwhile, four more players will run around on the TV screen trying to find him.

But when it comes right down to it, "asymmetric gaming" is a mouthful. It's convoluted and conceptual and requires an explanation like the one I just wrote for anyone to understand it. It's much easier to understand if you just play Lugi's Ghost Mansion, the minigame with the hide-and-seek rules I described above.

Iwata says that Nintendo had hoped that Nintendo Land would communicate the benefits of asymmetric gameplay, but that while "we have received a lot of comments from consumers that the gameplay in 'Nintendo Land' is interesting. … we presume that they have not yet come up with the best words to easily explain how interesting it is to other people."

"I would say that 'Nintendo Land' has not fulfilled the same role as 'Wii Sports' did when we bundled it with Wii," Iwata continues. Wii Sports, of course, being the game that so effortlessly communicated what made the Wii's motion controls special, and instantly made the case for owning the system.

Iwata then discusses Nintendo's plans to right the ship:

Of course, we won’t remain silent and do nothing. We are going to release a variety of Wii U software, and with each title, we would like to show how convenient and delightful it is to have the Wii U GamePad controller, and how it changes the gaming experience.

In addition, we have also learned that the name “asymmetric gameplay” does not fully explain the GamePad’s value to consumers. As for the software going to be released from now on, we would like to describe the experience that the GamePad provides with a different expression in order to adequately convey its necessity to consumers and increase the number of consumers that think, “Indeed it is good to have a GamePad.” In this sense, starting with “Pikmin 3,” we aim to include functions that make good use of the GamePad that consumers can appreciate.

Ha. "Indeed it is good to have a GamePad" is actually something I think fairly regularly, usually when I'm playing something using the system's nifty off-TV play. But I agree that it's not very easy to communicate why asymmetrical gameplay is cool, particularly when you don't quite have that one amazing game -- that Wii Sports -- to help make the case.

I put it to you: If Nintendo drops the term asymmetric gameplay, what term do you think should replace it?


Comments

    Call it dual screen play

    Last edited 19/06/13 6:08 pm

      That's not really the point though. A 3DS has a dual screen - it doesn't have asymmetric gameplay.

        Yeah it does. It's called networked play. If designers want to make games with asymetric gameplay they don't need a wii u. Any platform with internet multiplayer or handheld device with local networked play (phones, tablets, portable gaming systems) will work.

    This picture says to me hey guys that look kinda like Micheal Crea get a WiiU and you can get a girlfriend that kinda looks like Mila Kunis,SOLD.

    I don't think there's a good way to make this happen other than to get this into people's hands. Where were the travelling shows in the dais areas of shopping centres? I'd played a Wii 3 times before release and I bought it day one.

    I've still never really been able to play the Wii U. A few quick single player hits in JB Hifi or something, sure. But no multiplayer and those consoles often don't work. Nintendo needs a massive, grassroots campaign.

      Yeah, those Nintendo Connection tours were great, I remember playing Wii for the first time at one and being amazed by Wii Sports, as I'm sure many other people were.

        After I sampled the Wii at one of those booths I went and pre-ordered one immediately (whereas before I was going to hold off), that's how well those booths worked.

      You can have a play at almost all JB-HiFi's, but I haven't seen one in action anywhere. Personally, I just find the second screen distracting.

    Geez, Nintendo just will not learn.

    1. Good games
    2. Good games
    3. Good games

    That is all anyone cares about. Instead of a subtly tweaked Mario Kart 34525, get lots of innovative, interesting new games onto the damn platform so people have a reason to own it.

    I have owned many Nintendo products in the past but at the moment I can see zero games I actually want to play on the Wii U which would cause me to overcome the shame I feel at even writing the name, let alone saying it in a shop.

    Where is the SWAT or Battlefield-type game with a commander using the screen controller and the other players as units in the field?

    Where is the mecha game with the screen controller as part of your "cockpit"?

    Etc

    Etc

    Re-convince implies that I was once convinced, but fell off the bandwagon.

    They have to convince me full stop. And then they have to convince me that I'm not better off just waiting for the PS4 and hooking it up to my Vita.

      What like how Xbox 360 already connects with Microsoft Surface, iPhone, iPad, Android or any laptop???

        It does? I have an Xbox 360 and a Surface. What can I do with both?

        Well, sure, that too. But I don't have a surface or a 360 :-) Basically, to my eyes anyway, the WiiU's "unique selling point" is pretty much covered, at least to some degree, by all of their competitors.

    You know what would get me really interested in the WiiU? A game where say 3 people could be playing with regular controllers and where the tablet controller player was basically being a dungeon master & setting up challenges for the others.

    Think of a game akin to Dungeon Keeper where the 3 people who are raiding the dungeon are playing on the TV and the tablet person is sitting nearby giggling maniacally as they approach a carefully laid ambush he's set up on the fly. Better yet, he could be giggling maniacally making them think there's a trap down one hallway & lead them down another where there really IS a trap.

    Hell imagine how cool a regular RPG could be if one person was playing the DM & controlling the other side of the conversations the players were conducting. You could select whether to give them a cryptic hint, a regular hint or flat out tell them what they need to do if they're getting lost.

    Or something like Left 4 Dead, the tablet player could replace the AI Director

      Wii U already does this check out multiplayer for ZombieU dude

      I would be on that like a fat kid on a cake.

    Call it portal gaming. A doorway, gate, or other entrance to your game. I'm sure valve will be cool about it. Also if you use that Nintendo I want recompense.

    Hell, they even just need to push the off-screen gaming aspect more. Everyone I know with a Wii U always raves about how great a feature it is - even if it's not because you can't use the TV due to family using it or something, sometimes just being able to take your game to another part of the room with you and play it there is awesome.

    Interesting that the focus seems to be pushing the game pad thing, but that's the most off-putting to me; I've never used it, but just looking at it makes me think of waving around a fisher price iPad, which sounds horrible to me. It might actually be fantastic, but it's so off-putting I can't imagine ill find out.

      Yeah it's quite horrible sometimes but the amount of fun 5 player nintendoland is pretty much makes up for it, hoping Mario party makes a shiny debut on Wiiu

    i never thought it was cool to begin with, its a dumb idea

    I have a wii U and the controller is the absolute WORST part of the experience. I realy wish games were made to use this OR the pro controller (I bought one with the wii U but have yet to buy a game it can be used with, that said I only have a few games... I'm mostly waiting for bayonetta at this point... god I hope you can play it with a pro controller and not the silly wii u controller)

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