If you’re one of the thousands of gamers plagued by Joy-Con drift — an issue where the analogue sticks on the Nintendo Switch’s controllers register movements even when they’re not being touched — and are frustrated that Nintendo still hasn’t come up with a permanent solution, the fix could be as simple as a tiny millimetre-thick piece of paper.
It’s been four years since the Switch was first released and even units purchased over the past year have started developing the issue known as Joy-Con drift. It’s uncertain why Nintendo hasn’t identified the source of the problem and permanently fixed the hardware (many who’ve sent Joy-Cons to Nintendo for repair report the drifting issue returning months later) but the company is now facing multiple class-action lawsuits around the world as a result of the persistent issue.
There are several theories as to why Joy-Con drift happens, but the most common is that dust and dirt can get into the joystick mechanism, build up, and prevent small metal contacts from touching graphite pads that register the movements of the analogue stick. Opening the Joy-Cons and cleaning these contacts remedies the drift, as does occasionally just blasting compressed air into the controller, but the fixes are usually only temporary, and most of the time the Joy-Con drift returns.
That’s what ‘Victorstk’ of the YouTube channel ‘VK’s Channel’ found, so they decided to dig deeper, watching endless videos of both Joy-Con repairs and cleanings, but also videos of the joysticks used on other devices like the portable PSP and PS Vita being repaired. They eventually determined a second issue responsible for Joy-Con drift: over time the metal clamps that hold all of the joystick’s components together loosen, creating a gap between those aforementioned metal contacts and graphite pads, reducing contact and resulting in irregular behaviour.
By simply squeezing the middle of the Joy-Con, which applied pressure to and compressed the joystick components ensuring solid contact again between the parts inside, the drifting issue miraculously disappeared. As a more permanent fix, Victorstk simply inserted a thin piece of paper — about a millimetre thick — inside the Joy-Con. The paper compresses all of the joystick’s components back together again. Surprisingly, two months later, a Joy-Con that consistently exhibited drift issues has worked perfectly, Victorstk says.
Is this a solution that will work for everyone? It’s hard to say. If a consistent build-up of dust and dirt on the contacts inside the Joy-Con is the cause of the problem, no amount of added pressure is going to keep particles out. But it does seem like Victorstk is onto something, and if more Switch users find this simple trick remedies Joy-Con drifting issues, then we might finally have a permanent solution that could be trivial for Nintendo to implement on future hardware.