A Handheld Only Switch Should Be Nintendo’s Next Move

Nintendo published their financial briefing today, with it also containing Switch usage data for Nintendo Account users. This data provided an insight into how people are using the console, including whether they favor playing it in TV or Handheld mode.

The graph, shown below, revealed that over half of Switch owners didn't favor a particular mode, instead swapping between docked and undocked. However, it also revealed that around 30% of Switch owners play it in Handheld / Tabletop mode for more than 80% of the time, compared to less than 20% of Switch owners who played it connected to their TV for more than 80% of the time.

Prior to the Switch being released, many speculated that the console's Handheld mode would be overlooked in favor of docking it to the TV. This financial report shows that this is not the case, and that while the majority are switching between modes, more are playing it while on the go than they are while sitting in front of the TV.

Also: The Absence of the PS Vita from Sony’s PGS Line-Up Sounds the Death Knell for the Handheld

While Nintendo still shows an admirable amount of support for the 3DS, it is undoubtedly coming to the end of its life cycle in spite of a few key games releasing for it just over the horizon. As such, it seems like a logical next step for Nintendo would be to release a cheaper, handheld only Switch to retail and capitalize on the various portable properties that will likely come to the console. A Pokemon RPG has already been announced, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before we see Animal Crossing Switch — while keeping the Switch and 3DS both active makes sense currently, it's only a matter of time before the Switch gobbles up the 3DS's player-base. When this happens, the option of manufacturing a cheaper Switch that only supports its Handheld mode will broaden the console's player base, sell the Switch to new players and blur the lines between handheld and home console even further.

Over the next year Nintendo is unlikely to stop supporting the 3DS, as while sales of the console are declining, they're remaining relatively firm thanks to the hardware's continued popularity in Japan. However, with the Switch soon set to be home to a brand new Pokemon game, it's clear that Nintendo isn't opposed to removing the line separating its home console and portable offerings. As such, we could well expect to see a handheld only Switch launching at some point in the not-so-distant future.