Switch Docked and Undocked Play Time is “About Even,” Nintendo Says

The Nintendo Switch‘s most unique selling point is its ability to be played as a handheld or at a television. This may cause a divide in the community but, according to Nintendo, its an equal divide. The Big N stated that play time between Switch docked players and undocked players is “about even,” although some individual games skew towards one mode.


In an upcoming interview with Arstechnica, Nintendo Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing Doug Bowser stated that Switch play time is “about even—about 50 percent in the dock and 50 percent away from the dock.” Tabletop and handheld play count as “away from the dock” since the company doesn’t currently track them individually. Handheld mode refers to when the console has its Joy-Cons on the side and looks like a wide Game Boy. Tabletop mode is when the Joy-Cons are separated and the screen is propped up, which is often used for portable multiplayer gaming on the Switch.

Bowser also said that some games tend to lean to one side than the other. He gave the example of Just Dance players understandably preferring docked play while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild players tend to more even split their time. He did not list any more examples.

Individual players aren’t always such an even split. Nintendo shared in October that 30 percent of players primarily use their Switch undocked 80 percent or more of the time. However, less than 20 percent of users prefer their Switch docked 80 percent or more of the time. Just over 50 percent of players play in both modes with no huge biases.

Nintendo tracks these stats through online Nintendo accounts, meaning offline Switch were not part of this dataset. Young children under age 12 are probably not as likely to connect to the internet and, according to Nintendo, make up for 17 percent of Switch userbase. Bowser said that this data collection is valuable for Nintendo’s understanding of its market and how certain games are played. This allows them to “think about various ways with digital marketing and some of our videos to know how to position them.”