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access_time July 23, 2019 at 8:07 PM in Tech by David Poole

Why Are People Acting Like Analog Stick Drift is a New Issue?

Nintendo has recently been under some heat from consumers lately. Complaints about Joy-Con drifting have been on the rise, even to a point where purchasers were filing a class-action lawsuit. It seems even now, an internal memo at Nintendo of America informs employees to perform Joy-Con repairs for free. While Nintendo has released an official statement, they didn’t specify the issue and simply said they were “aware of recent reports”. However people perceive the Joy-Con drift issue, there is one bigger question here. Why are people treating this like it’s a new issue?

Perhaps it’s the big success of the Nintendo Switch that is causing such a stir. It might even be because people often have more Joy-Cons due to a lot of local play options on the platform. Regardless of the reason, analog sticks have been drifting since their invention. This isn’t an issue that affects just Nintendo. Sony, Microsoft, even Sega; they’ve all had drift issues at some point in time. I myself have a PlayStation 2 controller that drifts, as well as a GameCube controller. Luckily for me, my two launch pairs of Joy-Cons don’t drift, but I have one friend with the issue. Even so, it’s strange to see so many people act like this is a Nintendo-only issue.

For people unaware what causes drift in analog sticks, each stick is designed with a sort of dead zone. This is the area where the stick is considered a “0 point”. Through extended play sessions and over time, the stick will eventually lose that idle position, “drifting” away from that dead zone. This is what causes the stick to move on its own. While there are temporary fixes, a more permanent fix is still subject to the issue happening again. This can be accelerated further with games that involve pushing the analog sticks down, or even ones that require quick movements. It’s even a selling point of the Astro C40 controller that an analog stick module could be replaced in case of drifting.

Obviously, with the nature of the Nintendo Switch, this is a case by case situation. Sometimes this can be based on the game the user plays. Games like Fortnite or other shooters may be a bigger cause of the drift issue due to the nature of the gameplay. People constantly flicking the joysticks to change the camera or to move quickly may put significant pressure on the stick. Games like this would be more ideal with the Pro Controller, but even that can be subject to the issue, albeit over a longer period of time.

This widespread commotion has even caused concern for the upcoming Nintendo Switch Lite. Considering that the system doesn’t have detachable Joy-Cons, the drift issue would be a bigger problem. The system can still use wireless controllers, but that wouldn’t be a proper solution. Hopefully Nintendo can issue a statement with details about how they decide to handle this concern. Even then, it feels like the proportion of this issue is a bit blown out. What do you think? Is Nintendo rightfully taking the heat for this common controller issue? Or is it just a mob mentality focusing on a current topic? Let us know in the comments what you think.


  • Cer Can July 25, 2019 at 9:27 AM

    You are being disingenuous when you say nintendo is fixing them for free because that wasn’t the case until after the class action was filed and other bloggers started complaining about the problem.

    Joystick drift isn’t a new thing but the rate of failure with the quality plagued joycons is a problem that is proving widespread.

    It is not okay for your controller to be failing out of the box and consumers have the right to be upset when considering the rate of failure vs the cost of new vs the cost of repair and down time.

    Everyone considering the purchase of a switch lite ought to be taking into account the quality plagued switch and the difficult reality especially as it relates to nintendo hardware, software licensing, and downtime that inevitable comes with being a nintendo customer.

    It is not okay for nintendo to refuse to adapt modern solutions and shoulder the responsibility of their backward last century solutions on their customers.

    • David Poole July 25, 2019 at 11:33 AM

      So what is the rate of failure? Do you have those actual numbers? And no controllers are drifting out of the box. It takes time or unnecessary roughness. Most of the article agrees with what you’re saying though, like hoping Nintendo addresses the Switch Lite concern. We know it’s a problem, we’ve just seen some people treat it like it’s a Nintendo exclusive problem, which it’s not.

  • Cer Can July 25, 2019 at 12:24 PM

    Only nintendo could really answer that, but the rate of failure seem high as people are reporting multiple failures.

    I know were sue happy society but people are frustrated and you don’t file a class action over a small number of failures.

    • David Poole July 25, 2019 at 1:15 PM

      Exactly, and Nintendo said it was small. Now think of this in the grand scheme of things. The Nintendo Switch has sold over 35 million units. Now add the fact that there are probably at least double that in Joy-cons that have been purchased. Even if it was 1 million reports, that still leaves 69 million as the majority not having the issue.

      Like you said, only Nintendo has numbers, but the internet jumps on a bandwagon thinking that ten comments equals ten million people, which isn’t accurate. And anyone can file a class action lawsuit. That’s how they start. From one person. And then they try to gain a following.

      Sure, a million isn’t a small number, but it is unlikely that it’s a majority of the products, which is why Nintendo called it small.

  • Cer Can July 25, 2019 at 1:56 PM

    It isn’t just ten recent comment on a singular thread though.

    The class action is based on more than 10,000 complaints, that’s not just smoke it’s fire.

    And there are complaints going back well over a year with individual users claiming to have spent more than $300 on replacement joy cons. one user sent 8 of them to nintendo for repair and if you read the comments people are saying that both new and refurbished units are failing within months.

    A tech savvy user claims the point of failure is premature wear-in on its contact pads.

    I don’t think it is a small problem.

    • David Poole July 25, 2019 at 2:25 PM

      Like I said, it’s small in the grand scheme of things compared to how many are actually out there. 10,000 is much smaller than the 1 million example I mentioned earlier. 10,000 isn’t a small number but it’s small when it’s less than 1% of the amount sold.

  • Zacchaeus May 15, 2020 at 2:56 PM

    This is definitely not an isolated problem. I have a PS4 Pro and two other PS4 Slims for my kid’s rooms. All three have at least one controller that have drift. All together there is 5 Dual Shock controllers that are basically unusable. Being te one that funds this little gaming community, I have been pondering why this is happening. Surely there are specific variable at play here that were not in combination with previous system/games. Is it the constant drop? Well maybe, but that’s not consistent. My son is careless, so i was suspicious of that being his issue. However, my daughter is far more meticulous and calculated. Her controller experiences very little abuse. The same reasoning applies to the use of their controllers. My son is a reaction and reflex gamer. Hard joystick movement, smash and dash and overcompensating for coming in to fast is just a normal round of Rocket League for him. My daughter hasn’t ever made a joystick movement that wasn’t completely planned out in her gaming life. It’s all finesse with her. Like watching silk sheets flow in the wind. While everyone around her looks like they have tourretes, she’s stands out. Always the smooth operator, you’ll never have to ask which character is hers. Just look for the one merkin people as they channel the grace of a ballerina. (Which she is, btw) Then there is my PS4 Pro, which was only 2 weeks old when it’s first drift was noticed. I’m somewhere in between the other two. Definitely reaction and reflex, but calculated until necessary. I think there is much more focus on this drift issue because current games focus on the capabilities of these joysticks more and more. Through heavy use they wear out fast,and when most games that you play require precision the drifting issue becomes a more serious problem. I’m not even trying to take up for this issue. There had to be something done. There are deadzone adjustment in nearly every game. Which wasn’t a common tool before PS4. That tells me that game devs already understand there is an issue. This feature should be added to every console. WITH a calibration bar that allows for you to see the drift in progress, and adjusted to pinpoint accuracy.

  • Daryl May 16, 2020 at 4:39 PM

    It is an issue when you’re forking our top dollar for controllers that are having this issue with in a few months of purchase, and it’s not just Nintendo, because my issue is with the ps4 controllers having analog issues. That’s a lot of money to pay, to have to turn around and be the tech on something $70 or more. If you’re gonna sale merchandise that is faulty, then sale that crap at a cheaper price.

    • David Poole May 16, 2020 at 6:19 PM

      Definitely didn’t claim it wasn’t an issue, it’s just not a “new” issue.

  • AuthenticGlitch May 4, 2022 at 5:55 AM

    I’ve never had this issue with controller stick drift on any console from ps3/xbox360 era or any console before them.

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