First, cost is a topic that is brought up a lot, but we don't really know how much the GamePad factors into the overall cost of production for the Wii U system. People spout out numbers randomly, but Nintendo has never and probably never will revealed the price of making the GamePad for every system, so it's difficult to ascertain just how much (or at all) removing the Wii U GamePad would affect Nintendo's bottom line.
Secondly and a more important point, dropping the Wii U GamePad from the equation would take away what actually separates the Wii U from the competition. You take away the GamePad, and what you are left with is an underpowered (compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) console with no hook to it. Nintendo has made it clear that they cannot compete in an arms race with Sony and Microsoft.
We've seen Microsoft this past generation throw as much money as possible to get to where they are today in the gaming industry. Part of the reason why the Xbox brand is so popular now is all of the exclusive deals that money gave Microsoft and their Xbox 360. Nintendo doesn't have that benefit. They don't have multiple other departments like computers, televisions, movies, an online browser, MP3 players, etc. that Sony and Microsoft have. Despite how influential Nintendo has been to the industry, money-wise they are a small fish in a big pond. They only deal in gaming, unlike the others.
The point of all this is that Nintendo uses what critics like to call "gimmicks" (despite the d-pad, analog stick, rumble, and more-- all made popular by Nintendo, all called "gimmicks" in their time) to set their consoles apart and make their financially sound humble in power consoles from the competition. Nintendo has even tried to compete tech-wise with the competition before with the Nintendo 64 and GameCube, and all that did was make them lose a massive amount of market share through the years. So when someone wishes that Nintendo would have just made a "normal" console instead of what they've done, we sort of shake our heads and say they've tried just that in the past and have failed. Dropping the Wii U GamePad means dropping one of the only things the Wii U currently has going for it, as people are not going to just be happy with a souped up Xbox 360 by Nintendo.
|Rumble was once considered a gimmick, too. In|
fact, that was once Sony's argument this past gen.
When someone says that Nintendo should drop the GamePad and make it optional, not only would it tick off buyers who already have the Wii U, but it'd make it so the GamePad would be much less used than it is already and things like the absolutely awesome Miiverse would be less popular and less used as well.
For us, the Wii U GamePad has already given us more than enough entertainment. We enjoyed the launch title Nintendo Land and its use of asymmetrical multiplayer. We loved its usage in Ubisoft's ZombiU, as we cautiously looked back and forth between both the television screen and the GamePad screen to check for zombies as we managed our inventory. We especially dug the GamePad's use as a scanner in the fantastic must-play LEGO City Undercover, one of our favorite Wii U games yet. (Scoff if you must, but it's really a terrific title, LEGO game or not.)
By far the greatest experiences we've had with the Wii U GamePad is its off-TV play. It's nowhere near as advanced as what Sony has come up with concerning their upcoming PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita Remote Play, but the Wii U solution is also not nearly as expensive either. Regardless, being able to watch the baseball game while running through the Mushroom Kingdom in New Super Mario Bros. U or while taking down behemoth creatures in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate are experiences we absolutely cherish.
The Wii U GamePad is still struggling to gain traction. People argue that nobody wants it and cite current abysmal sales as the reason why, but we argue that the Wii U is not selling because the games haven't been there, nor have they been there in a consistent manner. We also argue that there's still plenty of brand confusion regarding the Wii and Wii U. It's easy to say Nintendo "should have done this" or "should have done that", and it's easy to say that someone's solution would have worked better, especially when there's no real way to prove a hypothetical solution wrong. That said, removing the Wii U GamePad from the equation is yet another short-sighted solution that would do more harm to Nintendo's brand than good.