On one hand, this seems like a painfully obvious thing: Broken hardware typically can be replaced under warranty or through the manufacturer for a fee, and the Nintendo GamePad is hardware. On the other hand, it's a controller, and Nintendo is deliberately not selling GamePads on their own in North America. So that raises the question of what happens if yours breaks?
Gimme Gimme Games got the answer from a Nintendo of America representative: "Individual replacement Wii U GamePad controllers will be available from Nintendo Consumer Service for a fee," they were told, but there was no word on how much a replacement will cost.
What about the warranty? Well, NOA has "no specific announcements" to make regarding warranty coverage for the GamePad, said the rep, but he noted that Nintendo warranties don't cover physical damage. Fair enough.
Extra GamePads will be sold in Japan for the equivalent of about $172. So if in North America, a GamePad costs $150, and if its replacement fee is lower than that, you probably can expect to be asked to ship back the old one, even if you broke it. Otherwise, what's to stop people from claiming they broke their old controller, buying up an extra one at discount and saving it for gray market resale once two-GamePad support arrives here, believed to be sometime after March.
I can't wait to see the Will It Blend Guy disintegrate a GamePad and ship them back the dust. "Wii U GamePad Dust! Don't breathe this ..."
Broken Wii U Game Pad replacements will be available ‘for a fee' says Nintendo [Gimme Gimme Games.]