If you’re a long-time Nintendo Switch owner, unless you’re incredibly lucky you’ve no doubt experienced the dreaded ‘Joy-Con drift’, a mechanical failure that causes ghost inputs when players aren’t using their joysticks. The results of which range from annoying and tedious to downright game-breaking. There are few things more annoying than a camera wildly spinning about every time you lift your thumb off the right joystick.
Nintendo has come under fire for Joy-Con drift since the Switch’s release back in 2017. The only real fix for most consumers is to buy new controllers, and those don’t come cheap.
Unfortunately, it isn’t a problem that’s going to be fixed any time soon. If ever. With the release of the new Nintendo Switch OLED model, Nintendo released a Q & A regarding the improved console’s development, where lead developers Ko Shiota and Toru Yamashita basically stated that Joy-Con wear is inevitable.
No joy for Joy-Cons
The full Q&A is rather long, but worth a read, detailing the development process of the new OLED Switch and everything going on inside of it, but the real sour note is the implication that Joy-Con wears (with drift as a result) is largely unavoidable, despite developers’ best efforts to thwart it so far.
“…car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to rotate,” replied Shiota when asked about Joy-Con drift. “So with that same premise, we asked ourselves how we can improve durability, and not only that, but how can both operability and durability coexist? It’s something we are continuously tackling.”
That last line is particularly disheartening. The basic implication here is that Nintendo’s working on it, but doesn’t have any major solutions at the minute, and can’t say when it eventually might. And while the car tire analogy is fitting, for the most part, car tires can be replaced. Joy-Con thumbsticks, in most people’s cases, can’t.
The Switch’s Joy-Cons have been upgraded and improved over the years, with all new Switch models (including the OLED and Lite) including them. Repairs are made using the most up-to-date hardware as well. Unfortunately, drift remains an obnoxious and all-too-common problem, and probably will for some time.
Nintendo’s flagship console isn’t the only one to experience drift issues. PS5 users began to report drift issues back in February, not 4 months after the launch of Sony’s shiny new consoles.