Drifting, as it's known, is when the analog sticks on the controllers move around, giving the console commands, without any player input. Even with calibration, the problem doesn’t go away. There’s no known reason as to why it occurs or any real solution either. Users have said that they’ve been nothing but gentle with their devices but drifting still occurs. It’s annoying at best, and absolutely detrimental to gameplay at its worst. In games like Breath of the Wild or Super Smash Bros., drifting can be the difference between failing a boss battle or completely losing a match.
There has been a noticeable uptick in complaints and concerns ever since the Switch Lite was announced. Players are understandably worried that if the Joy-Cons don’t detach from this console and the drifting problem persist, that they’ll have to send in the entire system for repair instead of just the Joy-Cons. There’s no telling how much that would cost at this point.
People have reported paying to get their Joy-Con fixed only to have the same problem spring up. A quick search on Twitter shows video evidence of countless users with their hands nowhere near a controller, yet Switch picking up input anyway. One user even caught video at a Walmart Switch display drifting.
The Nintendo Switch subreddit is also home to a large number of complaints. This Reddit user notes that for the high price of $80 that the “the Joycons would be as sturdily built and properly functioning as the Wiimote and Wave Bird and even the N64 controllers were if not better quality, and it didn’t take long to find out they weren’t even remotely built as well as its predecessors.” It’s clear that this isn’t a singular experience. Other users on this thread have expressed their frustrations. This post started out as a reminder that gaming companies have had problems with their products before, but other users quickly fired back that Microsoft and Sony have addressed concerns in an effective manner. On the other hand, Nintendo hasn’t really acknowledged the drifting in an official capacity.
Among all this, there was a rumor that there would be action taken against Nintendo for the Joy-Con issues and it turned out to be true. The Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith law firm filed a lawsuit against Nintendo of America over the Joy-Cons. It specifically related to claims of “alleged defects in the Joy-Con controllers that are part of Nintendo Switch gaming consoles. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleges that the joysticks on Joy-Con controllers are defective, leading users to experience drift issues.”
The complaint says that Nintendo made, marketed and sold the Joy-Con controllers despite being "aware of the defect through online consumer complaints." The firm names the practice as “unfair, deceptive, and/or fraudulent.” Kriner & Smith aim to have Nintendo reimburse any money or property loss due to Joy-Con defects. The firm has collected statements from players affected. The statements include everything from individual experiences to a multitude of posts made on Nintendo forums and Reddit.
According to an internal Nintendo memo, Vice reported that Nintendo will no longer charge customers that want to repair their Joy-Cons, and will issue refunds to those who have already paid. Apparently, customers won’t have to show proof of purchase or even confirm warranty status. Everything surrounding this possible solution has been very hush-hush. There still hasn’t been a truly official response from Nintendo as of now. When asked about the memo by a number of publications, the company sent out this statement:
"At Nintendo, we take great pride in creating quality products and we are continuously making improvements to them. We are aware of recent reports that some Joy-Con controllers are not responding correctly. We want our consumers to have fun with Nintendo Switch, and if anything falls short of this goal we always encourage them to visit http://support.nintendo.com so we can help."
It’s hard to say whether or not Nintendo will follow up with the information listed in the memo. However, it’s clear to see that the problem won’t be dying down soon - especially with a new console and a lawsuit on the horizon. Replacing drifting Joy-Cons with more drifting Joy-Cons certainly won’t solve anything. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how Nintendo will address this problem.