The Nintendo Switch’s Biggest Design Flaw Mystery Solved?

A new study has determined that the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift comes from dust and worn-out contact points.

By Jason Collins | Published

nintendo switch

Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con drift is a particular issue affecting the handheld controllers, which led to the analog stick drifting to the side due to the fundamental flaw in its design. This caused the controllers, particularly the left one, to register movement without actual input from the player. According to IGN, Which?—the UK’s consumer champion—carried out a lab test to pinpoint the issue with the controller and came to the same conclusions everyone else did, that a combination of dust and worn-out contact points cause the drift.

This issue, which Nintendo wasn’t able to fully address during Switch’s five years on the market, is once again brought to the company’s attention, with many now criticizing Nintendo’s returns and refund policy regarding Joy-Cons. This was a known issue since Nintendo Switch Joy Con’s plastic circuit boards usually show significant wear on the joystick slider contact points. What happened to good-old Pertinax PCBs (printed circuit boards) that are used to run our electronics? Well, as it turns out, you get what you paid for.

Which’s report criticizes Nintendo’s returns and refunds policy and calls on the company to commission an independent investigation into what actually causes the drift and make the outcomes publicly available. If Nintendo agrees to perform this investigation and publicly comes out with the results, it will confirm that the company launched the product knowing its questionable durability. This would grant various consumer groups grounds for legal action against the company, and Nintendo is very good with various legalities.

nintendon switch joy cons

Which? also asks Nintendo to commit to a “no quibble” and free-of-charge repair or replacement of all Joy-Con controllers sold in the UK since the console’s launch that has since developed drift. This would also apply to devices that are out of warranty. Additionally, the company is requested to compensate or provide a refund for anyone in the UK who can prove that they paid for the replacement Nintendo Switch controllers because of drift. Nintendo has already issued one refund this year, and it’s highly unlikely that that hell would freeze over one more time during 2022.

And lastly, Nintendo would have to promote everything mentioned above, to make all of its customers aware that they’d be compensated for faulty hardware. The Joy-Con drift issue affects approximately 40% of products, and though Nintendo remains adamant that the issue was alleviated, the consumers are still experiencing problems. This isn’t the first technical issue affecting Nintendo Switch, and the company already issued a warning to Switch owners last summer.

Unfortunately, this is the battle that can’t be won, and Nintendo isn’t even the main culprit. Truthfully, the company could make more durable PCBs; industrial-grade electronic components still use various PCB materials for durability purposes. However, those are typically more robust, and if Nintendo was ever to implement them, the consumers would probably complain about the controller’s size, demanding a slimmer version. This is also achievable, but it would significantly affect the price of Nintendo Switch controllers.

We’re not defending Nintendo here, and it’s entirely possible that the company has tried cutting corners by using thinner contact points in its Joy-Cons. But until an official investigation has been conducted and its results made publicly available, this issue will likely remain present until the release of Nintendo’s future console.