The Nintendo Switch has been a huge hit since its launch in 2017, but despite critical praise, the handheld has been plagued by lingering issues dubbed “Joy Con drift.” The problem is caused by joysticks, which can register input when you’re not even touching the controllers. Unfortunately, all current Switch models are susceptible to this ghost input, and Nintendo now says the problem could be inevitable. The company is trying to fix it, however.
Reports of Joy Con’s drift started popping up shortly after the original console launched. Annoying as it could be, a saving grace was the fact that the Joy Cons are detachable, so it was easy to replace faulty sticks without having to send the console itself in for repair. However, the Switch Lite has fully integrated, non-removable controls, and unsurprisingly, its controls also seem to be drifting, suggesting that it’s something in Nintendo’s manufacture or design that is causing the problem.
Speaking of which, the Switch OLED model has just been released and Nintendo has posted a lengthy Q&A on the development of the new hardware. It’s an interesting read overall, but there is one detail that deserves some attention. When it comes to the design of Joy Con, Nintendo doesn’t think it’s possible to eliminate drift altogether.
Q: Are you saying that basically wear is inevitable as long as the parts are physically in contact?
Shiota: Yes, for example, car tires wear out when the car is moving, because they are in constant friction with the ground to turn. So with that same premise, we asked ourselves how to improve durability, and not just that, but how can operability and durability coexist? This is something that we are constantly addressing.
Nintendo claims to have worked to limit controller wear and tear, but there may not be a perfect solution. If you’ve pre-ordered the OLED Switch, you’ll get the latest version of the Joy Cons, which Nintendo says has some improvements, but it’s unclear what they might be. The same goes for the newly manufactured Switch and Switch Lite consoles. Having said that, it’s also a lucky draw type scenario for some, as I have a first Switch unit, and it hasn’t developed any drift in the last few years.
With the OLED Switch laughing as we type this, it’s probably only a matter of time before we start seeing reports of drift with it as well. As with the original console, you can easily replace the removable controllers. Just contact Nintendo and you should be able to get a replacement.
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