Nintendo’s Joy-Con Drift Problem Just Won’t Go Away

Nintendo’s Joy-Con Drift Problem Just Won’t Go Away
Photo: Alex Cranz
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Nobody likes Joy-Con drift. In fact, Joy-Con drift sucks so hard that Nintendo has been pummelled with numerous lawsuits over the widespread, well-documented problem. Well, Nintendo can add another lawsuit to the pile. A Canadian law firm, Lambert Avocat, has filed a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for anyone in Quebec who bought a Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, or Joy-Cons.

If you and all your Switch-owning friends have miraculously avoided Joy-Con drift, the issue is that after a while (sometimes not even a very long while), Joy-Cons start triggering phantom movements on screen, regardless of whether you’re actually touching the joystick. Lambert Avocat notes that its client discovered her left Joy-Con was drifting after 11 months. After sending them back to Nintendo for repairs, two months later, the right Joy-Con started drifting. She then bought a second pair of Joy-Cons and a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller — all of which eventually exhibited Joy-Con drift.

The firm contends that Joy-Con drift “constitutes an important, serious and hidden defect” that wasn’t properly disclosed by Nintendo, consumers wouldn’t be able to detect defective Joy-Cons just by looking at them, and all-in-all violates Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act. (If you happen to live in Quebec and have bought any of the aforementioned products since Aug. 1, 2017, you, too, can apply to be part of the lawsuit.)

Nintendo’s Joy-Con drift legal woes span the globe. There’s one in Illinois, another one in California led by a child and his mother, and another in Washington that was later amended to include the Switch Lite a week after it launched. Per IGN, at the end of last year, nine European consumer organisations said they had received nearly 1,000 complaints about Joy-Con drift and called on consumers to report their problems as part of a potential investigation. A French consumer protection organisation has also filed a complaint against Nintendo, alleging that drift and Nintendo’s continued failure to permanently address drift were evidence of planned obsolescence.

Clearly, there’s a problem here and Nintendo knows it. No, seriously, they know because, as our sister site Kotaku reported last year, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa apologised during a financial Q&A session. “Regarding the Joy-Con, we apologise for any trouble caused to our customers,” Furukawa said, before citing a class-action lawsuit as a reason why Nintendo couldn’t comment further on how it intended to fix this whole mess. It has since added a whole Joy-Con repair section to its customer support website.

Consumers and consumer advocacy organisations are right to be pissed, but the onus isn’t on them to fix Joy-Con drift. Yours truly has experienced drift with two sets of Joy-Cons, both after less than six months of use. And while it’s nice Nintendo will repair Joy-Cons for free, it’s moot if, after repairs, you continue to experience the problem. Buying replacement Joy-Cons also loses its lustre when there’s a good chance that those, too, will also eventually drift. What you end up with is a periodic cycle of repair or replacement that you likely didn’t factor into the initial purchase cost. In any context, this is bad form for any gadget maker.

There are plenty of theories as to what actually causes Joy-Con drift — some say it’s dust and debris sneaking its way into the controller, others contend it’s wear-and-tear on contact pads. But until Nintendo sheds some light on why, publicly commits to a more permanent solution, or updates how the controllers are designed, Joy-Con drift ain’t going anywhere. And neither are the lawsuits.