UK Watchdog Concludes Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controller Drift Is Likely Caused by Mechanical Fault

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Joy-Con controllers for the Nintendo Switch are likely drifting due to a mechanical fault, according to a new report from Which!, a consumer watchdog based in the UK that sent a handful of Nintendo’s controllers to a specialist lab for teardown analysis and received results that suggest they suffer from a number of design flaws.

“After acquiring five controllers with reported drift and analysing them in the lab, we believe that a mechanical issue is likely to be behind the drift in the UK’s best-selling video games console, and Nintendo hasn’t done enough to address the problems suffered by hard-up consumers,” the organization wrote, noting a survey from earlier this year that suggested two in five Switch Classic owners experience Joy-Con drift, an issue that results in movement even when the analog sticks aren’t being touched.

The lab’s teardown revealed the following, which, according to the organization, hint toward mechanical fault:

  • While there were dustproofing cowls on the joystick components of the Joy Cons, the presence of dust and other contaminants in the internal components suggested that this protection was insufficient
  • All the plastic circuit boards exhibited noticeable wear on the joystick slider contact points
  • It was concluded that this wear, and the drift issue that resulted from it, were likely due to a mechanical issue.

“While there are variances between the construction of the individual controllers, the common features noted are the wear on the joystick slider contact points (present on all of the plastic circuit boards) and the ingress of dust/contamination,” a portion of the lab report reads. “It may therefore be the case that the drift issue is caused by the wear to the circuit board, or a combination of this wear together with the dust/contamination ingress.”

Which! has presented its findings to Nintendo, but the company has suggested that only a small amount of owners are affected:

“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,” Nintendo said.

“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.”

Launched on March 3, 2017, Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers are one of the most unique gaming controllers on the market, able to be used in either gamepad form or individually, similar to previous Nintendo peripherals that include the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

A single Joy-Con costs $39.99, according to the official Nintendo Store.

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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