Angry Over Busted Switch, Guy Files Class-Action Suit Against Third-Party Dock Maker

Several Nintendo Switch owners who purchased a third-party dock from Nyko were furious last March when the dock apparently bricked their $469 console. Over the weekend, one brought a class action lawsuit against Nyko alleging that the company wasn't vocal enough about the dock's manufacturing defect.

Nyko's portable Switch docking kit is a cheaper alternative to Nintendo's official $130 dock. Late last year, users raved about how portable and convenient it was. Until the Switch's 5.0 update on March 12, many say it worked perfectly fine.

Over the next few weeks, dozens of owners complained on Reddit and Nintendo forums that their Switches began losing functionality. Some stopped turning on entirely.

The third-party dock issue wasn't just limited to the Nyko - Switch owners who had purchased the FastSnail or Insignia docking kit reported problems, too.

Reached for comment in March, Nyko told Kotaku that they are "aware of the issue some Portable Docking Kit owners are facing after updating the firmware on their Nintendo Switch to version 5.0", adding, "we believe it is related to the way the Switch handles AV output for an external TV/monitor while the console is docked on the Portable Docking Kit."

Nyko Switch dock. Photo: Mike Fahey

Last week, a disgruntled Nyko Switch dock owner named Michael Skiathitis filed a class action lawsuit in the US district court of central California. The dock, which he purchased at a Walmart in Jacksonville, Florida, apparently messed up his Switch.

In April, he sent it to Nintendo for repair and told Nyko about his issue - but in the meantime, he'll probably lose all his save data. (The Switch, unlike Nintendo's 3DS system and the rival Xbox One and PS4 consoles, doesn't let users back up their saves, so a destroyed or lost system means that one's save files are all gone, too).

The lawsuit alleges that, "unbeknownst to consumers, the Nyko Portable Docking Kits for Nintendo Switch are prone to causing numerous problems to the devices that they are intended to support," adding that Nyko did not go far out of its way to disclose the bug.

Nintendo told Kotaku back in March that Switch owners probably shouldn't buy unlicensed product and accessories.

We have reached out to Nyko for comment but had not heard back at time of writing. Asked about how many people are participating in the lawsuit, Skiathitis' lawyers did not provide comment.


Comments

    First party all the way every time. Its the only way to avoid stuff like this.

      Yep, dont know why people bother with anything else

        Cost, pure and simple. $100 for first party versus $20 for third party is a damn strong temptation to plenty of people.

        Random numbers by the way, I dunno the difference, but its a hell of a lot cheaper to go third party, and that's a core reason people use them.

          Dunno why that said $100, I was sure I put the $130 the story mentions. Not going to change it and end up in moderation hell though.

            Oh man I just got back from there and safe to say I am more wise for it.

            Does anyone know why that happens? I always write dumb stuff and don't edit it because of the mod thing.

          But in this instance saving money has cost a lot more.

          yeah and you get an inferior product. yay

          You get what you pay for

            Not necessarily. Nyko in particular has had some pretty good products. I have a Nyko backplate with built-in extended battery for the original 3DS that I used to have before trading it in. The battery kit also came with a charging dock but could still be charging via 3DS charge cable, and it never gave me any trouble.

        Because aside from cost, third parties offer better features. On paper this one sounded like the holy grail, on top of using it as a dock for your TV you could also use it to play the console from mains power in tabletop mode while also retaining use of the additional USB ports. IE it was actually useful, unlike the overpriced trash that Nintendo offers.

      But with whom does the fault lie, the dock company for the product that has ceased to work properly since Nintendo altered the firmware, or with Nintendo for knowingly altering the way their product interfaces with the 3rd party products resulting in these defects?

        I'm going with the user being at fault.

        If the 3rd party product worked successfully with the Switch at the time of manufacture and sale, and the manufacturer was not aware that future firmware changes would cause problems when using the product, then they are not guilty of any deception.

        If Nintendo stated any form of disclaimer or warning that using 3rd party products with the Switch could result in problems, then they, too, are not guilty of any deception.

        If both of the above are true, then the user is at fault for not heeding Nintendo's warning and have only themselves to blame.

        This is why, for any 3rd party product or, in the case of the 3DS, flashcart, that works with or relays the console's input/output, I research the 3rd party product and current console firmware compatibility before purchase. When new firmware is released, I'll wait and research again before allowing the console to update itself. There's always someone on internet that has already tried it and documented compatibility any issues with new firmware.

          The problem here is that it took a few bricked consoles for any side to say anything about it. Nintendo probably knew ahead of time that this would happen but didn't say anything until the first few cases popped up. The manufacturer should also be responsible for putting out a more blatant warning then what they did.

          And besides if you don't really use the internet to do much but online shopping/the occasional news catchup, you aren't going to see the warnings that these companies put out anyway. Both Nintendo and the online stores where the third party docks are sold from would have some form of contact information. Most places require you to provide an email. Why didn't both companies send out emails to their customers to warn them as well as a warning on their site?

            I see what you’re saying and Nintendo should put more of warning out there because, in all likelihood, the bricking is probably a deliberate result of using non-licensed peripherals. It’s Nintendo’s classic method of protection against peripherals potentially being used to hack their products. If nothing else, it makes such attempts risky for would-be hackers. I’m not saying it’s morally right but Nintendo is within their legal right as long as they state in a disclaimer that using unlicensed products may cause issues with the console and could void its warranty.

            Similarly, it’s not the responsibility of the seller to inform the consumer that a product may have adverse effects on their systems. Yes, it would be polite of them to do so but they aren’t legally obligated to do something that could cause them to lose a sale. And if Nyko’s product worked successfully when it was manufactured with the console’s firmware of the time, before the Nintendo did-or-did-not take measures to prevent it from being used with their console, then Nyko has not violated any laws either.

            I’d be appreciative if someone with more legal experience can correct me, but I think this case will be dismissed.

    I still find it hard to fathom that there's really no way at all to back up your saves? If not to the cloud, at least to a USB drive or something?

      I mentioned this in another post about the Nintendo e-store, but it really is as if Nintendo only just discovered that the Internet exists. They're fine with digital downloads, now, thanks to the insane margins, but they still haven't had someone make them aware of the benefits of transferring profiles, cloud saves, or any of the other modern conveniences that were invented oh, I don't know, nearly TEN YEARS AGO.

      It's as if they're pottering along in their own tiny little bubble of fucking ignorance, re-inventing the wheel over and over and over again instead of poking their bloody heads outside to learn something from what the rest of the world has been doing.

        Nintendo is far from ignorant. Lack of backup functionality is most likely a corporate decision to prevent certain exploits.

          Oh, I wouldn't be surprised if that's true and if true, it is the worst reason. Restricting saves and profiles to hardware is good because it prevents exploits is like saying that citizen curfews and martial law are good because they help prevent terrorism. Fucking over consumers any time hardware fails or is stolen (especially relevant in the case of portables) for the sake of fighting piracy is bullshit, in that it actively punishes the innocent to frustrate the malicious. That anti-consumer attitude itself is what's ignorant.

            It may be the worst reason but it doesn't appear to effect sales. Companies will always push the limits of what customers will put up with.
            The potential lost revenue for cracking open a system that doesn't really on physical cartridges is pretty big.

              The potential lost revenue for cracking open a system that doesn't really on physical cartridges is pretty big.
              And yet Steam has managed it for decades.

              Also, I'm not sure I'd compare Nintendo's sales revenue - digital or otherwise - to Steam's and say Nintendo's making the smarter moves. There are other factors, obviously, but it's pretty much impossible to say their overprotective, anti-consumer bullshit is saving them more money fighting piracy than they'd make by being more open and pulling in a bigger consumer base who want, expect, demand the platform reliability of retrieving lost cloud data and purchases, not to mention portability between devices.

                Steam uses other DRM to a point though. Do you want denuvo on a switch and your switch has to be online all the time?
                Look at the sales of the switch, this "anti-consumer" mentality ain't hurting their sales. Sure they might get a few extra people here and there but that isn't going to make a huge difference.

                  You keep referring to Switch's sales as if they're some exemplar for justifying how they do business, compared to Steam. Nintendo are still talking in the tens of millions while Valve is talking in literally billions. Nintendo's Switch sales are a fucking rounding error on Steam. Roll that bad boy around in your head to see how it tastes.

                  It's like some cross-fit enthusiast gushing to Usain Bolt about how they won some awards at the most recent corporate games, and Bolt should totally take tips from them on effective workout routines because it's working out so well for them.

                  (Also, the 'always online' is pretty much identical between Steam and Nintendo. You need to be online to download and activate eshop digital downloads, just like Steam. And if you lose your internet, Steam will still let you play those activated titles in offline mode automatically, unless the PUBLISHER has mandated they be always-online. The days that offline mode didn't work for Steam were years ago before the Switch was even designed.)

        yet it continues to not effect me at all. ever.

        Its an issue but not worth worrying about, unless you buy cheap third party accessories ;)

          Or if your hardware fails due to age, damage, or theft. It's affected several people I know, and it's the worst part of buying into the Nintendo ecosystem. A big part of why I haven't invested further in it - if something does happen, it means you risk losing EVERYTHING.

            Dont know of anyone and have never been affected myself. ill continue to not worry about it or be affected by it while enjoying their games.

              I, on the other hand, won't even start trying to enjoy their games if the investment of time I make in them is teetering constantly on the precipice because they can't or won't implement a basic goddamn cloud backup. That's not some kind of luxury or cutting edge tech - it's a basic, fundamental requirement for a device being sold in 2018.

                legit? you wont buy Nintendo solely because of the no cloud backup?

                  I learned the lesson when my original PS3 died. That offered usb backup, but I hadn't bothered. Lost a 100+ hour Oblivion save, and 50+ hour Fallout 3 save.

                  Started doing weekly backups to usb after that until cloud saves came along.

                  The idea of sinking dozens of hours into something like BotW then losing it all because my console died or got stolen or whatever... Nope, can't / won't do it.

                  I did buy a SNES mini, but I don't care so much about my saves there, I just play a bit of Mario / Yoshi / Punch Out every now and then, I don't invest any serious time in them.

                  I refuse to buy digital Nintendo content for similar reasons. At least with physical copies they're always there and can't be "revoked" through loss of account or whatever.

                  Some of us who've been reading/posting here for a while are all too keenly aware of the trials that @mrtaco has been through, too, with Nintendo so-called 'support'. Man has the patience of a saint, I'd have been far less kind.

                  hmm. i get that its not ideal but to not have a console because of it is pretty extreme. You must not really want the console to begin with.

                  I put 110 hours into zelda and id delete my game right now if i had to. Keeping saved files from games ive finished means nothing to me. Losing a save file half way through would be SUPER annoying but gee, that's a rare rare rare occurrence.

                  And lets be clear, im not ok with no cloud save its just not even close to being a deal breaker.

                So Nintendo announced cloud saves are coming.

                Is everything ok now for you to buy a switch? hahah

                  Lack of cloud saves won't put me off, at least. I may look at getting one as a Vita replacement further down the line when the price comes down a bit.

      Sure.

      But Nintendo consoles have been around for 30 odd years now without that functionality.

      It would be nice, but far from a deal breaker IMO.

        On things like the SNES the saves were in the game cartridges, the 64 they were on a memory card. The 3ds saves to the game card and the wii can save to SD.
        This is the first time save files are stored on the console and are inacessable for back up.
        If a console failed in the SNES days it didn't matter. Your saves were on the cart, or if the cart failed you only lost save data for that game, the same theory applies to the other systems. With the switch if the console fails, you loose everything.

        Last edited 01/05/18 11:18 am

          Edit for typo but in moderation.
          If a cart fails you only loose the saves for that game. NOT everything.

            Exactly this, I was harping on about it when the Wii came along and we no longer had the flexibility of being able to just take a game and memory card around to a friend's place and instead had to lug the whole console around too. But everyone seemed to think it was a *good* thing. Eggs and baskets!

              You could actually back up most Wii saves. There were some that the devs didn't want backed up (due to cheating concerns) but that was bypassed with homebrew anyway

                You could back them up, yes, but to try and use your save on someone else's system was a far more fiddly process especially if they owned the game themselves (thus would need to back up their own save before you replace it with your own)... and then as you said, if it were one of the locked games you'd need homebrew to be able to do that. Complete and utter mess.

      I suspect the main reason they don't offer a simple "transfer save to/from USB storage" feature is that many games have buggy routines to load a save game: they're fine with saves produced by the game itself, but if the user can modify the save it may be possible to trigger a buffer overflow.

      From there, you might be able to get arbitrary code execution and that opens the door to homebrew or loading pirated games. This is how a number of the PSP jailbreaks worked, and Sony followed it up with the Vita that either stored your games on a proprietary memory card encrypted with a key unique to your console, or uploaded to Sony's cloud save service.

    Surely if plugging a USB device into the Switch causes the Switch to brick, that's Nintendo's problem, right? This is an industry standard interconnect they chose. Surely the root cause is the software changes Nintendo made.

      As they functioned correctly until a certain update one could say it was a deliberate action by Nintendo.
      The case doesn't have much ground in my opinion because the docks functioned correctly until a change by Nintendo not the dock manufacturer.

        This. I don't have a Switch but I'm pretty sure that Nintendo has something to the EULA that says, "Don't use the Switch in ways that it was not intended." Even if they're deliberately vague on the "intended" part, it would pretty much legally boil down to plugging in anything not licensed by Nintendo potentially voiding the warranty.

          What is the intended use of an industry standard USB-C socket though? Surely plugging USB devices into it counts?

            Likely only if it was a Nintendo-licensed USB device. Anything can be attached to USB connector these days. To take it to an extreme, if a USB device with the sole intention of damaging whatever it’s plugged into is plugged into a Switch, Nintendo can’t be held accountable for the outcome.

            Nintendo don't have comiamce with the USB-IF so they don't have to comply with standards. Plus the Nintendo website at least never say a it's USB comparable, it just says type-c socket.

              They call it a USB port throughout the set up documentation here:

              https://www.nintendo.com.au/help/switch-system-set-up-and-operation

              For example, in the section about charging the console directly, it states:

              Connect the USB plug from the Nintendo Switch AC adapter into the USB connector on the bottom of the console, then connect the AC adapter into the wall outlet.

              So any arguments based on the assumption that it isn't a USB port are a bit weak.

                All it mentions is the socket and plug areof a USB style, it doesn't say USB compatible. There's also no official USB branding on the box to say it's fully compliant.
                It's a dick move but they are covering them selves as there is nothing to say it's an actual USB port.

        If you could prove that Nintendo did this intentionally: if there was proof that they had sabotaged peoples' consoles after purchase, it would open them up to their own class action lawsuit. It seems more likely that they only tested the updates with their own accessories.

        Now assuming there isn't any physical damage to the bricked consoles, it should be in Nintendo's best interests to make sure their system software is resilient to arbitrary USB devices being plugged into the socket on the bottom of the console. If this dock can cause the console to brick itself, what else can a device do when plugged in?

    People were complaining about that dock bricking consoles waaaaaay before the March update, there was reports of it on the Reddit page back til late last year

      Yep, had a look to confirm, there's reports dating back 6 months about it bricking consoles. It's complete and utter bullshit that they're blaming a month old patch on the issues it's had

    I'm confused, doesn't the Switch come with an official dock in the box? Why are people buying third party docks in the first place?

      having a second dock allows you to dock it on another tv without unplugging and moving your original dock. I the idea would be that you could have a few docks all around your house and just pick the console up and put it on any tv you wanted.

      Pretty much what @wonderingaimlessly said. I've considered buying another dock for the bedroom to complement the dock in the living room. Unplugging, moving, and re-plugging the switch dock is not much more convenient than unplugging, moving, and re-plugging the PS4 or Xbone. It's lighter... and that's it. Crawling around cabinets and wrangling cables behind the TV is much the same, otherwise.

      The only thing really holding me back is that the 1st-party dock is too expensive for the convenience offered, and Nintendo have achieved their alleged goal of sabotaging the reputation of 3rd-party docks through shitty software updates that allow 3rd-party docks to brick the console.

        See what @thefong said above - the complaints were happening long before the software updates.

          Its probably a bit of both, bad quality docks bricking them previously, but now coincidently with a software update many more that haven't had an issue before are now bricked.

      I was on the verge of buying one of these both so that I had a second setup I could easily move to without shifting additional cables and whatnot, but also since this one would be something I could take to meetups and such to use as a charging stand which is something the stock dock cannot do for some stupid reason. As it is you need some kind of third party solution to be able to charge the machine and play at the same time if you're not using handheld mode, since the charging port is on the base of the unit and the only stand available out of the box is a shitty little kick-stand on one side that doesn't do much of a good job if you don't have a very solid even surface to use.

    With all these consoles "bricking" with a little bit of mortar should be able to build a nice little cottage. I will show myself out.

    Switch can’t back up save files?????
    What kind of archaic shit is this in 2018?
    Nintendo continue to be idiotic for the sake of being different. Maybe Apple and Nintendo should join forces to create the most consumer-unfriendly products the world has seen!!!

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