The Switch’s Joy-Con drift is likely due to a mechanical fault

Written by on December 20, 2022

The dreaded ‘Joy-Con drift’ issue that has plagued many Switch owners since the console’s launch in 2017 is likely caused by a mechanical fault.

That’s according to the latest research from Which?, who point to likely mechanical flaws causing a problem where the Switch’s Joy-Cons cause movement in-game without the player touching the stick at all. It has been a significant cause of complaint throughout the Switch’s lifespan, with many players having to purchase replacement Joy-Con – which cost around £62 for a pair.

To research the issue, Which? sourced five sets of Switch controllers suffering from the Joy-Con drift, and sent them to a lab for analysis. Upon dismantling the controllers, the lab not only confirmed the drift issue in all five controllers, but found that it was likely due to mechanical issues born from a design flaw.

Prior to this research, one explanation for Joy-Con drift was that it was caused by a buildup of dust inside the controller. While the Joy-Cons dust-proofing cowls on their joystick components, Which?’s research suggested that this protection didn’t go far enough – with dust and “other contaminants” being discovered inside the controllers.

Additionally, the lab found that all of the Joy-Cons’ plastic circuit boards showed noticeable signs of wear and tear, despite the controllers having only been used for a few months. The lab concluded that this damage, and the resulting drift issue, were due to a mechanical fault.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. Credit: Chesnot / Getty Images.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. Credit: Chesnot / Getty Images.

Which? has called on Nintendo to “get a grip of the problem” and provide compensation or a refund plan for any customer in the UK who can prove that they have had to purchase replacement Joy-Cons due to this issue. Additionally, any refund scheme would need to be sufficiently promoted so that all affected consumers are aware and can access support, compensation or refunds. They also added that Nintendo must commit to a free of charge repair or replacement service for all controllers sold in the UK that have been affected by Joy-Con drift since its launch in 2017.

In response, Nintendo has stated that only a “small” number of Joy-Cons have encountered the issue, and added that they 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,” said Nintendo, “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.” Customers affected by the issue can book a repair on Nintendo’s support site.

The findings from Which? are just the latest to criticise Nintendo for the fault. Last year, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) called on Nintendo to investigate the issue. Nintendo is also facing multiple class-action lawsuits due to the Joy-Con drift, including one filed by Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith in 2019, as well as a second suit filed in 2020.

In other gaming news, EA has used FIFA to accurately predict the winner of the last four World Cups.

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