Nintendo has addressed the contentious issue of Joy-con drift in the US, Latin America and France since the early days of 2019, and now finally UK, Switzerland and the European Economic Area have the opportunity to return their red-and-blue joysticks for a free repair. The offer also extends to those that are no longer under warranty. Huzza!
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Joy-con drift is an issue many Nintendo Switch owners have experienced since launch. The problem causes false inputs, or drifting, where analog sticks on the controller randomly move around without any physical user input, which is a game breaker, to say the least.
The cause? Well, it’s difficult to put a pin on it, but debris and dust can make their way underneath a rubber cap that protects the interior, negatively affecting the potentiometer. Some users brave enough to disassemble their controllers have also reported worn-out contacts on the analog sensor module. Also, if you’re lucky enough, the cause could be a software issue, and the controller simply needs a firmware update and a quick recalibration.
Nonetheless, it is uncertain when the company started taking on repairs, though an article related to the issue is currently on Nintendo’s UK support page, detailing a few DIY suggestions to help resolve ‘drifting’ before submitting a repair ticket.
If all else fails, Nintendo says it will “not charge you in the European Economic Area (EEA), UK and Switzerland for the repair of the responsiveness syndrome irrespective of whether this is caused by a defect or by wear and tear.” Great stuff.
There are some exceptions, however. If you take the time to read the fine print, you’ll find that Nintendo may refuse to provide repairs related to stick drift if; the damaged was caused by accidental damage, or third-party accessory, as well as if the controller was previously opened, modified, and repaired by an unauthorised party. Them’s the breaks.
It’s not only Nintendo controllers that have these issues, mind you. In fact, any controller that uses an analog potentiometer can face the same problems after years of wear and tear.
However, manufacturers have started using Hall effect sensors that utilise a magnetic field to determine voltage change that is then converted to positional data to track joystick movements. In essence, this means Hall effect controllers have the potential to never develop drift in their lifetime. Nice.
Looking for a permanent fix? GuliKit supplies a replaceable Hall effect stick cap for Nintendo Joy-cons. GuliKit’s KingKong 2 and 8bitdo’s Ultimate Bluetooth controllers also come kitted with Hall effect sticks and are compatible with Nintendo Switch, if you’re looking for an alternative.