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One chart shows why the Nintendo Switch has become such a big hit

This is good news for Nintendo

A blue Nintendo Switch Joy-Con being held sideways in someone’s hand James Bareham/Vox Media

The Nintendo Switch is a unique system that can be used either as a portable or a home console, and it turns out Nintendo can track which mode you’re using when you play games. The information was broken out during in the company’s six month financial report for the end of the fiscal year.

And the data shows that Nintendo is onto something with its dual-purpose design.


This chart isn’t laid out in the most efficient manner, but it breaks down how players are using their systems based on registered Nintendo Accounts. The majority of players, a little over 50 percent, use both the TV mode and handheld mode. This is followed by around 30 percent of players who primarily use the tabletop of handheld mode, with under 20 percent of players primarily using the Switch in TV mode.

Nintendo defines “primary” as players who spend over 80 percent of their time in a particular mode.

“As the graph breaks it down, we can see how the different play modes for hardware use are classified, from the docked to the undocked experience,” the report states. “We can clearly see that consumers are playing to suit their own play styles.”

This versatility of the hardware is a key selling part for the Switch — combined with Nintendo’s unmatched first-party games — and this information shows that players aren’t ignoring one mode for another. Nintendo bet that players wanted to use both modes, and now it has real-world usage data showing that players are in fact taking full advantage of that choice.

The reason this is such great news for Nintendo is that it’s a feature that its competitors won’t be able to match in the near future, if ever. Neither Sony nor Microsoft will ever be able to release Mario or Zelda games on its console, nor are they likely to offer a similar product that operates in two different ways.

Not only is Nintendo selling piles of systems, it’s doing so in a way that makes its competitive advantage almost impossible to replicate.

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