I love Gabe/Mike's post on playing Call of Duty on the Wii U. As the Penny Arcade Report's Ben Kuchera has noted before, there has been some confusion about exactly what the Wii U is. I myself have wondered why the Wii U GamePad would be superior to a computing tablet. Gabe/Mike gets right to the heart of the matter and makes a very strong case for why the Wii U matters (emphasis mine).
So what is it about the Wii U version that makes up for losing access to Xbox Live? For me it’s the gamepad functionality. At any time you can tap a button on the Wii U gamepad and shift the video from your TV down to the handheld screen. For a gaming dad this feature is a blessing. You people without kids might be surprised to learn that when you have children you need to alter your gaming routines. First of all the TV simply isn’t always available. Much of the time it’s showing the same Curious George episode for the millionth time or being used to re-watch the entire Lego Ninjago series from start to finnish. The ability to start up and play CoD on the gamepad without ever having to use the TV once is incredible. Normally I’d wait until the kids were in bed to play a game like CoD but now I can sit there on the couch with my kids and play an M rated game without them even noticing. More importantly I’m not playing some bullshit mobile version of CoD, I’m playing the real game and earning real XP! When they leave or go to bed I can tap a button and send the video back up to the TV and keep playing.
This sounds very similar to my own experience of using a smartphone for the first time. At first, I assumed that I was mainly going to use it for maps and web browsing. I was dead wrong. To my great astonishment, I have found that I mainly use my phone for reading. I can pull it out of my pocket whenever and wherever I have a few minutes free, read an article or blog entry, and then quickly put it back. I can shunt my reading from my computer to a portable device and thus free up my computer to do tasks for which it is more optimized (i.e. anything that involves a lot of typing). My smartphone has expanded my computer's capabilities, not replaced them. In the same way, I see the Wii U GamePad expanding the capabilities of the next-generation gaming console. The Wii U GamePad is fundamentally different from a computing tablet because it doesn't require you to buy or download mobile versions of every game; you can use the GamePad as your screen at any time while still playing the exact same game. That's a very compelling feature for any household that shares a TV.