Nintendo's Selling Dockless Switch Consoles In Japan

Nintendo released the Switch console in March 2017 as a jack-of-all-trades. Rather than merely being a new home console, the Switch is a hybrid device that can be played on a TV or as a handheld, depending on whether or not it's placed in its dock. Every unit shipped with a dock, Joy-Con grip, AC adapter, and HDMI cable at launch, and Nintendo even released the dock separately for people who want to move between TVs.

Now the company has taken a step in the opposite direction. On the My Nintendo online store in Japan, the company has listed a Switch that doesn't come with a dock, Joy-Con grip, AC adapter, or HDMI cable. At first it seems like Nintendo is trying to appeal to consumers primarily looking for a handheld console, but without a charger, the lonely Switch and its pair of Joy-Con controllers will be little more than paper weights.

Instead, the introduction of a dockless option shows that Nintendo thinks some households are ready to buy their second or third Switch. (It's even called "second Switch" on the web page.) Rather than buying everything that comes with the base package, the console-only version will let people who already have a dock, charger, etc. buy a Switch for someone in their home without doubling up on parts used only some of the time.

Anyone with kids, roommates, or anyone else in the house who plays games will probably see the appeal of a single-dock multiple-Switch arrangement. Folks can argue over who gets to play on the TV, and instead of being forced to either watch or go do something else, the other person can play with the other device in handheld mode. That way you're rationing time with the TV instead of figuring out who gets to play at all.

Nintendo is uniquely positioned to solve that problem with the Switch. Other consoles either have to be connected to a TV (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) or can only be played as handheld devices (Nintendo 3DS). Because the Switch can do both, Nintendo could theoretically sell a Switch to every member of a household, regardless of how many television sets they have. It doesn't make sense to do that for any other console.

It's almost funny to remember that Nintendo couldn't sell one console per household, let alone one to every person in the house, back in the Wii U era. That console was essentially a flop--Nintendo has said the Wii U sold 13.56 million units worldwide between its November 2012 launch and December 2016. The Switch sold nearly 1 million units in the U.S. alone during its first month of availability, and games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Mario Odyssey all shattered their respective series' sales records after their release.

Nintendo is selling the dockless Switch for 26,978 yen (roughly $245). That's 5,400 yen (around $49) cheaper than the base package, which costs 32,378 yen in Japan and $300 in the U.S. You'd end up spending more than that if you bought the dockless version and then got the dock and AC adapter separately, but you could buy the dockless version and a charger to save a few bucks if you're committed to using it as a handheld.

The dockless version of the Switch isn't currently available outside Japan, and Nintendo hasn't announced plans to expand it to other regions.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • Nintendork
    I think portable devices should start coming with a DC output, like some years ago, that way you don't even touch the battery when at home.
  • gggplaya
    20993840 said:
    I think portable devices should start coming with a DC output, like some years ago, that way you don't even touch the battery when at home.

    It has a USB-C port which is used for power. Not sure what's you're saying??
  • irfbhatt
    Yes. It has USB-C port)
    For people who love Zelda Games, the Wii-U was the best console that Nintendo ever made. You can play every popular Legend of Zelda title on the Wii-U. However, I still bought a Switch to play Breath of the Wild.