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Is Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con stick drift issue down to a design flaw?

A new research study claims so

If play Nintendo Switch then chances are you have experienced that dreaded moment where your Joy-Con begins to drift. Now a new experiment conducted by Which? has found that the issue is caused by a fundamental design flaw.

Stick drift is a problem that many controllers suffer with, it’s that moment where your character starts to walk around on their own and you blow profusely into the analogue hoping for a miracle fix. Sometimes a quick cleanup does the job but in some cases, you’re stuck with a phantom analogue.

One controller that is notorious for developing stick drift is Nintendo’s Joy-Con. Not only is it frustrating when your Joy-Con develops this issue but it’s made even worse that these things aren’t exactly cheap. The Nintendo store sells most variants of the Joy-Con for £69.99. So as you can imagine, when you buy a replacement that also develops stick drift after only a matter of months, it makes you question the design.

Design issues or just bad luck?

As reported by Eurogamer, that’s exactly what UK consumer group Which? did with its recent experiment. Research found that the Joy-Cons’ plastic circuit boards would show noticeable wear on the joystick slider contact points, after only a few months. This issue results in the dreaded stick drift. In addition to this, dust and other troublesome build-ups were found within the Switch’s internal components, despite the efforts made by Nintendo to ensure these areas are dustproof.

The research didn’t just highlight these issues, it also stated that Nintendo’s handling of the situation and their response to consumers wasn’t good enough. Which? Has asked that Nintendo offer a “no-quibble” repair or replacement for Joy-Cons that have developed stick drift since 2017…Totally free of charge.

Nintendo issued a statement in response to the research study saying, “The percentage of Joy-Con controllers that have been reported as experiencing issues with the analogue stick in the past is small, and we have been making continuous improvements to the Joy-Con analogue stick since its launch in 2017.” 

“We expect all our hardware to perform as designed, and, if anything falls short of this goal, we always encourage consumers to contact Nintendo customer support, who will be happy to openly and leniently resolve any consumer issues related to the Joy-Con controllers’ analogue sticks, including in cases where the warranty may no longer apply.”

Future Tech

It seems Nintendo is trying to ensure that customers are using the customer support on offer where broken hardware can be sent off for repair. However, the repair service has come under fire in the past when it seemed that mistakes were being made due to a massive backlog. Nintendo has also had to face lawsuits and investigations over the issue due to a series of complaints. 

It’ll be interesting to see in the future how many controllers will continue to use the standard analogues which seem so prone to suffering from stick drift. New hall effect joysticks, which behave in a way where the components never need to physically touch, help to ensure that the sensors do not wear out – meaning goodbye stick drift. 

Written By

Paige Cook is a writer with a multi-media background. She has experience covering video games and technology and also has freelance experience in video editing, graphic design, and photography. Paige is a massive fan of the movie industry and loves a good TV show, if she is not watching something interesting then she's probably playing video games or buried in a good book. Her latest addiction is virtual photography and currently spends far too much time taking pretty pictures in games rather than actually finishing them.

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