So, How’s Everyone Playing Their Switch?

I find 80% of statistics fascinating, 100% of the time.

Talking to a longtime buddy of mine, we ended up on the topic of Nintendo Switch, and more specifically, how great the portability factor was. It blew my mind when he admitted that he rarely, if ever, plays it in handheld mode. To me, the handheld mode is not only the most important part of the Switch, but the way that I enjoy it more than 75% of the time, if I had to guess.

My buddy is far from alone in this – the numbers are all over the place according to Nintendo’s own financial results (PDF WARNING). Roughly 30% of users primarily play their console in handheld mode, with a little less than 20% playing primarily in docked mode. The remaining ~50% uses their Switch in a healthy mix of both modes.


But what strikes me as interesting is the different types of lifestyles and how the Switch fits so perfectly into them.

Personally, the handheld mode benefits me because of the following reasons:

  • While my wife watches her Netflix shows, I like to hang around her and play on my Switch, generally earlier on in the night before I head up to the office to play in docked mode.
  • I have a crazy-ass dog who requires attention. I can easily bring my Switch downstairs and hang around the vicinity for a bit to make sure he’s not destroying my house.
  • My Switch dock is in my office/game-room, and I don’t always want to be in my office, particularly as I work from home several days per week and already spend a lot of time there.
  • On the days I do go into the office, my commute is at least 1 hour on a bus each way. That’s at least two dedicated gaming hours, 3 days a week.
  • I like to play in different environments. Maybe I’ll take a long motorcycle ride, then hang out at a park and play some games for an hour. I actually did this a lot with Pokemon X after getting my first 3DS. Nothing beats exploring a digital work while exploring the real world!
  • I enjoy playing in bed, and it helps me fall asleep if I play while laying down. Sitting down and playing makes it hard for me to fall asleep.

As you can probably surmise, I am also a twitchy freak who can’t sit still and needs to move around constantly. The Switch helps with that.


Of course, the other interesting part to me aside from Nintendo’s findings is how unique the situations for each person can be.

  • A ton of people drive a car to work.
  • People with infants probably use the Switch in handheld mode a lot more, for the obvious reasons.
  • People who commute via subway or smaller area probably don’t feel comfortable holding the relatively huge Switch, or are worried about damage and/or theft.
  • Some people don’t share a TV or living space, and so they never have a need to remove the console to another room.
  • Depending on your career, you may be required to travel a lot. Folks who frequent planes, trains, and hotels probably use their Switch primarily in handheld mode.

I’ve assumed that my reader base here at Nostalgia Trigger are folks in their late-20s to early-30s, and so I’m curious as to how everyone who has a Switch enjoys playing their console.

Do you put yourself in the 30% that primarily plays handheld, 20% that plays docked, or somewhere mixed in the middle? What’s a typical day look like for you, and how does the Switch work itself into your unique lifestyle?


  1. It’s great the device caters to every play style, nice article. I love statistics too, btw.
    I play mine 100% handheld. In fact, it’s not even hooked to a tv. The joycons never get detached, never used the console controller either. To me, it’s a bigger and better DS!


  2. I split my time between them pretty evenly, but some games I only play in one mode or the other (Skyrim is my to-go game and I already have the Enhanced Edition on ps4, so I’ve no reason to ever play it on my tv). With bigger games like Mario, Zelda, and Xenoblade, I’m mostly docked, but I still play them in handheld if I’m doing things like grinding, moon hunting, or doing shrines. Portability is a huge part of why I love my Switch and why I loved the Vita.


  3. This is really interesting, and I think it highlights just how great the flexibility of the Switch is. Like you say every Switch owner is unique and will use the console’s portable/docked/tabletop modes to different extents. I already said this on Twitter, but I use mine exclusively docked, but do plan to take it away on holiday from time to time. I walk to work so no commuting possibilities for playing it, and me and my partner play video games together, one at the controls and one shouting strategy tips and keeping an eye out for shiny things, so docked works best for this.


  4. Nice post. I prefer to play docked, I always had problems while playing with handhelds with hands position and my neck…I can use handheld for short gaming seasons, but that’s impossible with games like Zelda, which I’m playing right now.


  5. This was really insightful, thanks for sharing. Personally I prefer to play docked as much as I can. Even got myself a third monitor at work, to play it on.

    But now in this winter time, I fins myself getting in bed and playing Zelda on handheld mode!

    Also depends on the type of game too, for example Mario Odyssey. I feel that game is better played docked than in handheld, thats just my opinion

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! This isn’t a typical article I’d post, being just a general question, but I found it interesting when I spoke to my buddy as I assumed everyone played it all over the house. Turns out that wasn’t the case at all!

      And like you said, it definitely depends on the game. I think Rocket League does a great job of handheld play, while Xenoblade 2 I try to only play on the TV (when I’m not on a bus of course) because it’s a far better experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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