In April 2020, law firm Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith (CSK&D) filed a class action lawsuit against Microsoft alleging the company had knowingly sold faulty Xbox controllers susceptible to drift. The same firm recently filed cases against Nintendo and Sony for similar issues — but now the case against Xbox is being forced into arbitration.
What that means is the case will be resolved by a private third party, rather than in a court of law. Any decision made is still legally binding, but it does mean the case is unlikely to return to the court system in future.
Despite the move, CSK&D is committed to claiming damages for impacted users and had received a sufficient volume of controllers to push for compensation.
In the course of the suit, expert examination alleged Microsoft had been using a flawed design for the original Xbox One controllers that made the device prone to breaking. (As reported by The Loadout, these tests were conducted on a paid basis, although it’s unlikely this influenced the overall case.)
The issue identified was with the controller’s potentiometer, the mechanism that controls movement via the thumbstick. While the exact nature of the problem was not spelled out in the lawsuit, it’s likely the same wear-and-tear issue that impacts most modern gaming controllers.
You can watch the video below from iFixit for a more detailed breakdown of why controller drift happens in the PS5’s DualSense, but the short version is that extensive use of a controller will eventually wear down the mechanics of the potentiometer inside the thumbsticks, reducing the accuracy of movement input.
Regardless of the examination’s findings, the lawsuit will not continue in court.
It’s likely we’ll hear more about CSK&D in the coming months as the lawsuit filed against Sony for similar issues is still pending an outcome — but until any formal announcement is made, we won’t know the outcome of the planned arbitration between the company and Microsoft.