The Wii U controller is the main controller for the Nintendo Wii U console. It’s officially called the Wii U GamePad. The controller was unveiled with the Wii U at E3 2011, and features a built-in touchscreen that can provide additional information to players, such as stats, maps, inventory, and more. For players who wish a more classical approach, Nintendo has made the Wii U Pro controller.

Wii U controller development

Wii U controller
Development started on the Wii U hardware in 2008, and Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto wanted the controller to have a small screen where players can find additional information about the game. The Wii U controller went through several designs before the team settled on a version with a 6.2 inch touchscreen. Later versions of the touchscreen made it possible for entire games to be streamed to the controller instead of the television.


The Wii U controller’s main feature is a 6.2 inch touchscreen, however, the controller has a lot more hardware. Among the new hardware is a front-facing 1.3 MP camera, a microphone, gyroscope and a set of stereo speakers. With these features, the Wii U controller can function as the main screen for the game, where the gameplay is streamed to the controller instead of the television. This enables players to simply keep on playing, even if the television is used for other purposes. The Wii U controller will also include a small amount of flash memory that’s used for games and tablet software.

Wii U controller specifications

The controller will include a plethora of inputs and sensors that enable a wide variety of gameplay options. Nintendo has stated that while the Wii U ships with only one controller, it is possible to support multiple Wii U controllers at the same time. Players will also be able to use the Nintendo 3DS as a controller for the Wii U. The full specs on the Wii U controller:

  • 6.2″ inch touchscreen, WVGA resolution (854 x 480 pixels), 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Regular button control layout on the side of the controller, with two analog circle pads
  • Microphone
  • Camera
  • Speakers (left and right)
  • Accelerometer
  • Infrared sensor
  • Gyroscope
  • NFC and Bluetooth support
  • Stylus/pen support
  • Headphone jack + volume slider
  • Compatible with 3DS as a controller
  • Uses Wii U sensor bar to track and determine 3D position

Nintendo has said it was possible to use two Wii U controllers with the console, however, the current plan is that only one controller will be supported at beginning. The Wii U controller requires a lot of resources and processing power from the console hardware, which means a considerable amount of more power from the system will have to be used to support the extra controller. That’s why games who would support two controllers would have to be created for this kind of support from the ground up. Because of this, it’s uncertain whether the console will ever support multiple tablet controllers.

Wii U controller buttons

The tablet controller will include all the buttons that gamers are familiar with, including two circle pads and one D pad. Here is the full breakdown of the Wii U controller buttons:

  • 2 circle pads on each side, one D-pad on left side
  • Center buttons: Home, Select, Start, Power
  • Right side: A/B/X/Y + circle pad
  • Bumpers/triggers: Left/right bumper, Zl/Zr triggers

NFC chip

The Wii U controller will feature an NFC — Near Field Communications — chip. The Wii U NFC chip is used to communicate with other devices that have an NFC chip. NFC technology is set to boom over the next few years, with chips becoming so cheap to produce that they can be included in almost everything. For more details on this new technology, check out our Wii U NFC article.

Wii U controller stylus

The Wii U stylus is a small and simple plastic pen which can be used to draw and write on the controller. Nintendo showcased a drawing application for the console where players could draw Nintendo characters and share them online. While the Wii U stylus is included with the controller package, it isn’t necessary to use for input on the screen. Players can simply use their fingers for a regular touch interface.


Wii U controller back
The Wii U will have a built-in rechargeable battery which is non-removable. The battery in the controller will be large enough for several hours of continuous use, even when the screen is on at full brightness. The battery will be charged via an included a USB cable that connects to the USB ports at the front of the Wii U console.

Wii U apps and software

In addition to games, the Wii U controller will also support Wii U apps, such as small downloadable games, like chess and backgammon, which can be played on the controller alone. Non-gaming apps will also be supported on the controller through an app store. Apps like video streaming and productivity apps are entirely possible on the Wii U controller.

Wii controllers and accessories

The Wii U will be fully backwards compatible and will support Wii controllers and input devices, such as the Wiimote, nunchucks, Wii Classic Controller, and the Wii Balance Board. The controller will support a Wii U Zapper accessory, which will be used for first person shooters and action games. For more on this, check out our Wii U accessories page.


  • super super cool!

  • alienfish

    That black strip on the top surrounding the camera is an IR sensor strip if I’m not mistaken. My guess is that you’ll be able to play Wii games using only the controller. A stand could pop out to display it upright and then Wii remote and Nunchuk could be used along with it. Also add NFC capabilities to the list.

    Another thing to consider is that Nintendo has been listening to developers and making changes to the console/controller. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw analog triggers and cL and cR buttons (or whatever they would call them) on the circle pads (like L3 and R3 on PS3 controller)

    • shadowfan2z

      How did you know that the controller would support NFC in the middle of March?

      • TechRyze

        There was a Rayman Legends trailer that leaked it.

  • random WII U LOVER

    im buying the WIIU and running home befor the poparazi come because ill be so awsome carrying that thing home

  • Derik Gotro

    I did some measurements, this controller is like holding a DVD case sideways, but it’s about an inch longer. It felt pretty comfortable. It’s gonna be cool.

  • julian cruz

    OMG!!! THIS IS ONE OF THE SYSTEMS ON A MUST HAVE LIST. if you dont get this system you should be saaaaaad

    • Your mom

      Or really stupid to think Xbox and all that junk fps stuff is better

  • james braseton

    hi there yeah apps for non gamin like i can take netflix too other rooms thats not close too the wii u console

    • ????

      I have the world’s top scientists working on figuring out what you just said.

      • Bobby

        Wow, if they can’t figure out what he said they must really be stupid.

    • Bobby

      No, the controller has to be close to the WiiU console. I think around 15 feet away from the console is as far as it will go πŸ™

      • EponaVsCrimsonLoftwing

        I heard 30, but even then, I’m sure there will be some 3rd party accessory that’ll extend the reach to like 50 feet or something. I mean, they made all those useless ones for the original Wii, and the Wii also did get a sensor bar made that extended its reach, after a while, too. So eventually, even if it is initially limited to one room, it’ll probably extend beyond that.

  • Joaquim

    AWSOME I can play with my 3DS like a new controller! CanΒ΄t wait for have it.
    Congratulations for the good explanation.

    • zelda333

      i need the wii u!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Ovni384

        me too… and fast

        • abby;)

          Me 3….I think of how I could live without it ;(;(

          • Wiiu’r

            I gonna die!!!!!!!!

  • Link

    I wonder how much it would cost, ’cause if the Nintendo Wii controllers were around $50 Canadian, this controller might be around $100 because of the touch screen and all of the other features. It’s pretty crazy lol.

    • This is really late, but the controller comes with the system, and the system can’t really support multiple controllers. So unless you break it, there’s no need to buy another

  • Dark Chieftain

    As soon as I pick up this bad boy, I’m gonna turn around, hold it in the air and say, “I am a GOD!”

  • Your mom

    Yes it will be awesome to own one ( I’m going to midnight release a day early just to shove it my friends face) LOL! πŸ˜€

  • Jordan

    I hate it when i get something like a 3ds and a new thing comes out in like a month.

  • M16 gunner

    3DS as a controller thts sweeeeeet πŸ™‚

  • nintendorocks

    this bad boy is too much for nintendo like don’t they take a break?

  • radiofriendplace5996

    Would the controller work for the regular wii system?

    • Drizzle

      No, but you can use Wii controllers with the Wii u πŸ™‚

      • Shaka

        Will we be able to play on the Wii U system with a Wii controller without using the Wii U GamePad initially

        • most likely not, but no matter what, you have the gamepad. Both the regular (white) and deluxe (black) come with the gamepad.

  • Nintendo Brony

    3DS as a controller seems like a gimmick but a good gimmick that can be used as a cool idea for 3rd and 1st parties to use. If I get a Wii U before my friend i’m gonna run around my school chanting “TIME TO KILL TEMPLARS, EAT ACORNS, AND USE PLANTS AS SLAVES!” and then smile like Globox. πŸ˜€

  • zelda333

    i heard the wii u is going to come out definatly in 2012 and from july 1st-december 2012. ^-^

  • Nintendofinatic!!!

    I heard some games wont be avaliable till 2,3,4 weeks after launch.
    Is this true?

    • Ninty fan

      Sadly, yes. But most are a week from day 1 of Wii U release, so turn that frown upside down (if that was a frown).

    • WiiUPlayWithMe:P

      The games they announced are launch window, and Nintendo considers that a 3-4 month period, so some will come out even later. We’ll probably get a dozen or so at launch, another half dozen the next week, and then the rest will be spread out across the launch window. But considering how many games there are, with more still being announced, we should be good. Besides, you don’t want to overload and not get to one of the games cause of another new release. I bought 7 Wii games 2 months ago as a sort of final run with the system, getting some games I missed earlier, and I’ve barely been able to play them all. Only about 2 or 3 really so far. This also has to do with my parents not liking me having my Wii in our family room, cause they rather watch tv (Wii u is the answer to my prayers), but I still just haven’t had the time to do them all. Especially since other 3DS and DS games have come out, and I wanted to get through those too. I still have a bunch of kid icarus, pokemon black, Mario kart 7 and more to work on completing. So take your time Nintendo. I want the most out of your games, so take the time to make them great, and give me time to focus on one or 2 at a time. I’ve been on overload ever since I got those NES classics on my 3DS. Those games are hard and take a lot of work and dedication. Metroid and Zelda 1 are haunting my system right now. I will not give up. I need more time. Thank God I’m only lined up to get the last story and kingdom hearts 3D for the next few months, maybe new super, Luigi’s mansion, or paper Mario too. I hope I have free time next semester….and a job. I need money for all this. This may be the first time ever I’ve had more games than I could handle, and the system launch is only gonna add to it. Point is, there are plenty of games to fill up time between releases. No need to worry. I’m gonna go schedule out my gaming for the next month, I’m getting through these. Wish me luck, I’ll need it, haha

  • Navi the Fairy

    I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the wii u to come out. I need it NOW so i can play more Zelda games cuz I beat all of mine…and I dont have a wii (i know, its pathetic) so im waiting so I can get get all the good ones like Twillight Princess and Skyward Sword and the new one that is supposed to be coming out…tick tock tick tock, HURRY UP, NINTENDO!!!!

  • nameUcan’thate

    I’ll be getting one in december, so all my friends will have the chance of making fun of me for the first few months of school. I can’t friggin wait. SO EXCITED.

  • Taeyeon

    This page needs to be updated. Wii U gamepad doesn’t look like that anymore.

  • NintendoLover

    Based on rumors and info all over the Internet the release date is probably november 18, 2012. I really hope that Nintendo land comes packaged in with the wii u that would be awesome! Like they put wii sports in with the wii. Except Nintendo land is a bit more elaborate. I’m so getting the Wii U! I’m guessing the price is probably between $299 and $349. I don’t know if 854×480 is hd or not on the game pad screen or how wiiudaily even found out that Info even though Nintendo hasn’t released that yet but based on’s judgement they said that it’s really precise touch on the screen and 16:9 aspect ratio and based on their judgement they said the screen on the game pad is at least 720p.

  • NintendoLover

    854 x 480 pixels Where did U people find out this resolution anyway?
    The battery in the controller will be large enough for several hours of continuous use, even when the screen is on at full brightness. Where did U also get this information anyway?
    I’ve looked around and most sources point to a 3DS-like battery life of 3-5 hours.

  • Ninjaaaa!

    Im confused. I know the wii u supports both remotes but does that mean you have to constantly put one down then pick the other one up because that seems like a lot of effort to be constantly doing just to play a game :/ still, who needs wii fit u when you have constant controller switching workouts ^_^

    • Wii Uoops sucks

      You just need a little bit of kisses :*


    I keep seeing on web pages like EB games website that there is a new better looking wii console in the background of the wii u. Do I need this console with the wii u, cos the estimated price is 598 dollars where as the wii u by itself is estimates 108 dollars! Can you help me out!

    Thank you.

    • Why do people keep making this damn mistake. The wii u controller is NOT the wii u, the “wii” you saw sitting in the background is the wii u, the controller is just a controller, nothing more.

  • Noah


  • Wiiu’r

    Waiting till after Christmas so I can get it with super smash bros. 4! X-X can’t wait! Time, go by faster!!!!!!!!

  • Wiiu’r

    Ninja gaiden 3 also

  • trevian

    OMG can’t Wait for Wii u i’m going to be do Sike

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  • lil girl

    can u play games on the wii u by itself like walking outside for an EX.

    • the wii u is not the controller. The wii u is the system hooked up to the TV. The controller must be within range of the wii u in order to communicate with it (aka to play games), that range is around 20-30 feet

  • Black Tigress

    I’m just curious to know if this thing’s gonna come with the original wii remotes or not….
    ..I’m actually not quite sure if I’m feeling this new change..

    • Lavinia Kaihea

      no it doesnt come with the regular wii remotes but you they still work with the new wii u you just need to buy the original wii controlers

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  • AwtzmMom

    Ok, i will admit that i am not a gamer, but my children love it!!! We purchased the wii u for them for Christmas.
    After reading some stuff mentioned above, what is the deal with the 3DS…it can on cannot be used with the Wii u?
    I am very excited to see the boys faces when they open up this present for Christmas!!!

  • cookie123456

    Wii U is better then 3DS

  • I have 4 year old wii console. Can I use Wii U gamepad with my old Wii after upgrading its software?

    • no, because the wii u has stronger internal hardware that can actually support the wii u controller as well as the 720p graphics. Having a wii u controller on a wii would be pointless because you can’t run the games for wii u, and you can’t do anything with the controller without those games. πŸ˜› except perhaps run wii games on only the controller (as opposed to TV) which wouldn’t make sense seeing as how they were designed with the wiimote in mind

  • tj8083900

    How can I play the ‘Old’ Wii games on my new Wii U using the Wii U controller (not the pad). My son has a lot of original Wii games, but unfortunately he can’t play them on the Wii u using the controller. Thanks for any help I can get or imformation supplied. Please email me at

    • You can’t. Β The Wii-U tablet doesn’t support the old Wii games.Β 

      • tj8083900

        Thanks for that. I was asking about the controller and not the tablet however.


  • we used wii u with our regular wii controllers, now they wont work on our regular wii the four lights just flash how do i reset?

    • You need to hit the SYNC button in the battery compartment of the controller and the SYNC button on the console itself. Β  It’s because the controller can’t SYNC to 2 consoles at one (kind of like how you sync a Bluetooth headset).

  • So we know that most games will be backwards compatible, but what sort of controllers will be backwards compatible with both the system and the game? I’m wanting to play gamecube games, and was wondering if a gamecube-style remote made for the Wii could work on the WiiU to play those gamecube games? Or can gc games be played solely from a wiimote with/without a nunchuk?
    I’m pretty new to WiiU and haven’t touched nintendo products since GBA days so I don’t know how smoothly these run.