Valve Hopes To Avoid Thumbstick Drift On The Steam Deck

Valve Hopes To Avoid Thumbstick Drift On The Steam Deck
Image: Valve / Kotaku

Thumbstick drift is a nasty and frustrating problem that seems to have become more common on some consoles and devices. Valve is aware of these issues and says it has done a bunch of tests and picked high-quality and reliable parts to avoid the “risk” of stick drift becoming a problem with Steam Deck devices.

In an IGN interview with Valve designers and engineers who worked on the Steam Deck, the company claims that it is fully aware of the ongoing kerfuffle regarding joystick drift and that it is trying to avoid that situation. To do this, Valve explained that it has done a “ton of testing on reliability” of various Steam Deck parts and it believes customers will be “super happy” with how the device performs.

“ I think that it’s going to be a great buy,” explained hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat in the IGN interview. “I mean, obviously every part will fail at some point, but we think people will be very satisfied and happy with this.”

Another step in the company’s plan to combat stick drift, according to Valve, is that its using parts that it knows have a high-performance quality. “We didn’t want to take a risk on that, right,” said Steam Deck designer John Ikeda. “As I’m sure our customers don’t want us to take a risk on that either.”

All of this sounds good and is important because unlike the Switch or PS5, which have suffered from stick drift issues in the past, the controller inputs of the Steam Deck are built into the device, which would make repairs trickier and more expensive than just buying a new controller.

Photo: ValvePhoto: Valve

Stick drift has long plagued the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons, with fans recently discovering a potential fix for the problem using cardboard. PS5 controllers have also encountered stick drift. Things have gotten so bad that some folks have restored to lawsuits against the console makers producing these controllers.

Valve announced the Steam Deck, a portable PC capable of playing high-end games, earlier this week and opened up pre-orders soon after. While the pre-orders hit a snag early on, things have calmed down a lot since then. The base version of the device starts at $US400 ($541), a price that Valve boss Gabe Newell said was “painful” to achieve.

Meanwhile, resellers have already swooped in and are trying to sell pre-registrations on eBay for, in some cases, upwards of $US2000 ($2,703).


  • Well, the controllers are built into the Switch Lite as well. I’m surprised there isn’t more noise about having to replace the whole unit. Some folks don’t want to invalidate warranty by DIY, since those articles have mysteriously raised their heads again.

  • Them addressing this directly scores another point in my eyes. We’ll see how it does by the time sales open for Australia if they’re true to their word.

    • Took 3 years for Valve to release the Index here (launches in Aus Sept this year). I would not be holding your breath. Ever since our government sued them and won, they’ve been pretty meh towards their Australian customers.

      • It has nothing to do with them being sued… if anything they been more engaged with Australia since they realised we actually buy games. (they ignored us more before).

        Its more to do with Valve not being a multinational hardware manufacturer. They have to outsource everything built and shipped. It’s just logistics they can’t make enough to meet demand.

    • Exactly, it doesn’t point to them using a new supplier or solving the problem, just that they are aware of it.

      • Actually it does “says it has done a bunch of tests and picked high-quality and reliable parts”. They specifically tested for this as a result of awareness of it, they don’t need to use a ‘new supplier’ because that would imply they were originally using the same as the switch or PS5, which is dumb. Use your eyes and READ.

  • Here’s the thing. I still have my original Xbox controller from 2003 or something, and I still use my X360 controllers on my PC on rare occasion, neither suffer from any sort of drift. This isn’t some inevitable issue, or technological or engineering hurdle which needs to be solved by millions in R&D, it simply comes down to quality/design and that is EXACTLY what Valve says they are counting on and have specifically tested for. Which makes a lot of sense to me.

    • Yeah my immediate thought was, what has changed in the last few year that it is all of a sudden a problem? I’m yet to have a drift problem with my PS4 controllers or even my PS3 controllers that I still use on occasion. I have 4 switch controllers and they all have drift, the newer ones are worse than the original set that I own. wtf?

  • Well I just hope their easy to repair. Obviously you need to unscrew the thing apart to do so, It be nice if thumb-sticks one day became a hot-swap-able part you just yank out but its likely such a mechanism would cost allot. (or they could just use magnetic’s instead of trim-pots for measuring!)

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