This Chart Shows A Big Reason The Nintendo Switch Is Selling So Well – Forbes
Nintendo, you may have heard, is doing quite well. The once-beleaguered gamed developer and hardware manufacturer is having a banner 2017, releasing the two best-reviewed games of the year, selling a boatload of SNES Classic Editions and firing up its mobile division. But the real star here is the Switch, Nintendo’s new flagship console and breakout hit both for its superb software and unique hardware proposition as a console that can function as either a handheld or in a traditional living room setup. Nintendo recently shared some information on how players are using the thing, with some interesting statistics. Check out this chart below:
The Switch switches, naturally. Nintendo’s console works in three main setups: as a docked console running through a TV, as a handheld console with the controls on either side, or as a tabletop console, which works like a hybrid of the two: the screen sits on a flat surface without a dock, but you control it like you would control it playing on the TV. Most people, according to Nintendo, play with this thing as intended by splitting their time between the three modes and playing both at home and on the go. But among those who prefer the Switch one way or the other, more people prefer playing on the go, either in handheld or tabletop mode. About 20% of people said they played mostly docked, where about 30% said they preferred the Switch as a portable.
This makes sense to me, though I’d be curious to know how this breaks down by region: commuter culture in Japan could easily be skewing the results towards handheld. But the numbers really drive home what Nintendo is doing, and why the Switch is so successful beyond just the fact that it has The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and now Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo is essentially selling two consoles at once, allowing them to target both gamers eager to plunk down on the couch with an engrossing adventure and those looking to while away hours on the subway or train. The fact that it has a third function — allowing you to play mobile multiplayer with games like Super Mario 8 Deluxe — is gravy.
For my own part, I’d say I spend the majority of the time docked, but that’s mostly because I spend a fair amount of time playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with my wife. Handheld is reserved for transportation or the gym, but tabletop is probably my favorite setup, if not the one I use the most. No, the kickstand isn’t great, but there’s a kind of unparalleled luxury inherent in plopping the thing on a bar and playing with detached Joy-Cons, a drink at your side. It’s worth noting that Super Mario Odyssey’s decision to push the detached Joy-Cons has helped me discover this control scheme.
But to be cranky for a minute: this statistic really underlines my main frustration with Super Mario Odyssey. Odyssey is one of two major marquee titles for the Switch, as well as a beautiful, impeccably designed platformer. For some reason, however, Nintendo insisted on pushing motion controls into the game to the point where there are certain challenges that can’t be met without using them. This isn’t great even for docked mode, mostly because some of these controls are less than reliable and some people would just prefer not to use them, but they’re just plain unworkable in handheld mode. Which is frustrating, given the clear popularity of handheld mode.