Is your Switch Joy-Con 'drifting'? It’s an issue big enough to take Nintendo to court

PHOTO: Aleks Dorohovich / Unsplash

The Joy-Con "drift" — it's a widespread problem, apparently. Not that it's something that we've encountered first-hand, but newly published reports, extensive Reddit threads, and complaints on Twitter have made clear the ubiquity of the issue.

A great many Nintendo Switch owners are currently experiencing an unknown malfunction in their controllers, causing them to be unusable without repair. 

Here's what it means: as their Switch units get older, people are starting to notice non-existent inputs from their controllers' analogue sticks (the left more so than the right). So if you're playing Breath of the Wild, Link might start heading forward even if you are not touching the stick. Hence, "drifting". 

If you're one of the many affected, try recalibrating your Joy-Con through the console menu and even make sure your Switch is running on the latest software. If that still doesn't fix things, you'll either need to get them repaired or buy a new pair. But here's the thing: even if you do, the same problem might resurface in the future.

And now, lawyers are involved. Law firm Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith has filed a class-action lawsuit in a Washington court on behalf of Nintendo Switch owners that have been plagued by the Joy-Con drift. According to Polygon, the firm had been contacted by 5,500 consumers and are continuously seeking for more Switch users to join.

In response, Nintendo gave this statement to Polygon:

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.

Nintendo provides a standard warranty of 90 days for accessories and 12 months for consoles. Outside the warranty, Nintendo offers repairs at a hefty price of US$40 (S$55), which comes close to the cost of totally replacing the controller. Pricey. 

But according to an internal memo obtained by Vice, Nintendo might actually fix malfunctioning Joy-Con controllers for free. The memo noted that customers would not be required to provide proof of purchase and the products don't have to be under warranty to get them repaired. 

For those encountering any similar issues with their Joy-Con, the firm has a complaint form on its website for Switch users to fill out. We've reached out to Maxsoft — the official distributor of Nintendo products in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand — to get clarification for affected Switch users here.

mabelkhoo@asiaone.com / ilyas@asiaone.com

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