[Rambling/Opinion] The Switch’s battery life won’t be great, and that’s just fine

Disclaimer: This is not an end-all-be-all. I'm not the arbiter of what the Switch is "supposed to be" or how it can be used. But I think something along these lines is what the "idea guys" at Nintendo were thinking when they shaped the core concept that drove Switch design decisions.

There have been plenty of rumors, speculation, and pessimism about the Switch's battery life, which purportedly won't be more than about 3 hours. What are those idiots at Nintendo doing?, prospective buyers lament. It's supposed to be a portable system.

The battery life probably won't be very good; it would be very optimistic to think we'll get 4-6 hours or more. But it's not supposed to be a typical portable system. It's supposed to be a console that you can play like a handheld in transit between traditional console stations (TVs), as well as a console that allows you to turn it into a TV station temporarily.

What do I mean by this? Well, take a look at the marketing. The Nintendo webpage said "get a sneak peak of Nintendo's new home console" just prior to the preview trailer launch. That's telling, though not super meaningful on its own. Now let's break down the trailer itself:

  • A man plays Switch on a park bench while his dog is getting some exercise. This is a temporary point between his home where he was playing on the TV, and his home when he returns there after the dog walk.
  • Another man plays Switch while waiting in an airport terminal (plugged in for charging), and then on the plane ride. Both of these are like setting up a temporary console station, illustrated in different ways: one playing while plugged in, and the other playing with the Joycons separated and the Switch standing upright.
  • The man later plays Switch while taking a taxi ride home to his TV, where he continues playing.
  • Overall, the whole journey is between two points (hotel room and home) where the man could play his Switch on the TV.

The remaining three examples (besides the e-sports scene) both involve a temporary console station setup for a group of friends to gather and play.

  • A short car ride where we see some multiplayer Mario Kart.
  • A skirmish in a basketball title after a real game of basketball is finished.
  • Showing off the Switch to friends at a party.
  • None of the three above examples (which don't show any charging cables) would go on for more than a couple hours, and the car ride in particular would be very short.

Imagine the world as many Nintendo Switch docks in different locations. Normally, you're playing Switch on one of these, or undocked but around the house where charging is readily available so battery life is a non-issue. In this sense, it can be used pretty much exactly like the Wii U. Clearly, it is a home console.

But sometimes you will travel between two points on the map: between two Nintendo Switch docks (or at least, possible docking locations — and remember that both locations could be the same place, such as your house). During that time, you can take your home console with you, and play it with true portability for the presumably limited period of time it will take you to get from one "dock" to the next.

If you need more than the few hours the battery allows, that's where the other feature of Switch's core concept comes in: you can transform it into a little miniature TV anywhere you go! But TVs need power, so if your temporary console station out there in the wild needs to last a long time (for example, longer than the hour, tops, that those friends played NBA2k17 before going home from their actual basketball game), you need to plug it in to a wall.

Discussion started at here by LightsaberCrayon

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