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Nintendo Switch design is justified by 50/50 usage pattern

Nintendo has revealed that Switch users are pretty evenly dividing their play time between docked and undocked usage: "about even—about 50 percent in the dock and 50 percent away from the dock," said (the brilliantly named) Doug Bowser, Nintendo senior vice president for sales and marketing, in an interview with Ars Technica late last week.

"One of the nice things we’ve seen with the Switch is we’re able to read more telemetry data in how players are engaging with the content," Bowser said to Kyle Orland.

That data also justifies Nintendo’s decision to design the console in such a manner. The removable controllers, additional ports plus the dock itself would have all added to the cost of the device, a cost that remains high at present given the other hardware used. Not that seems to be hurting Nintendo’s sales to date.

Talking about the telemetry data, Bowser said: "We get that when they connect, if they have a Nintendo account we have the ability to understand how they’re engaging with the device….From a positioning standpoint we can look at various titles and how they’re being played. That allows us to think about various ways with digital marketing and some of our videos to know how to position them."

It also reduces the possibility of a single-use-mode Switch appearing down the line – despite the obvious potential advantages in terms of cost and ergonomics in creating such devices. Especially a TV-only Switch, which could potentially cost little more than many small set-top boxes, such as Apple TV. The only avenue NIntendo has explored to date is selling the Switch in Japan without its dock, intended for households which already own the full-package console.

Previous data from a Nintendo investor report showed that most users split their time between modes, with those who had a strong preference for a single mode being more likely to prefer handheld play.

As of March 31st Nintendo states that is has sold just under 18m Switch units worldwide. 

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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