The Nintendo Switch Lite is the most affordable entry-point for the Japanese gaming giant’s most popular recent titles. But a widespread issue with original console’s Joy-Con controllers could also make it an expensive problem waiting to happen.
Switch owners on YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter have long described a problem that’s come to be known as “Joy-Con drift.” Once the phenomenon kicks in, the Switch thinks its joysticks are being tiled even when Nintendo’s colorful controller is untouched. This results in maddening, in-game ghost movements can make games unplayable. Unaddressed, the Switch Lite could wind up being a $200 paper weight when launched on September 20.
The Joy-Con controllers on the original Switch are detachable, so if they break in any way, gamers can simply buy a new pair (for $80, but still). With the Switch Lite, the plastic controllers are attached to the handheld console, so serious Joy-Con drift would require you to buy an entirely new console.
Nintendo has not provided a fix, or even publicly acknowledged the drifting problem. The company has not responded to Inverse’s multiple requests for comment. But the company’s could soon be faced with its moment of reckoning.
Pennsylvania-based law firm, Chimicles, Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith could soon file a class-action lawsuit against Nintendo. The firm is now amassing user complaints, its site reads:
“CSK&D is investigating a potential class action based upon reports that the Nintendo Joy-Con controller for their Nintendo Switch gaming console can experience joystick drift issues. Specifically, it is reported that the joystick on the Joy-Con will automatically register movement when the joystick is not being controlled and interfere with gameplay.”
The issue is a ubiquitous topic of conversation in the major video game forums. Redditor /u/LocusAintBad posted about how their Joy-Cons became unusable after only four months on July 15. The thread has since garnered more than 27,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments, with some users claiming to have spent more than $300 on replacement Joy-Cons alone.
Another Redditor by the name /u/rainbopython claims to have found the underlying issue with their faulty controllers after disassembling them. The user noticed a wearing-in on its contact pad, the component that translates player inputs into game movement. Any faults with this crucial component and the controller can no longer respond properly to the position of the joystick.
The company hasn’t indicated there would be any internal improvements, beyond improving the console’s battery. Nintendo could always address the issue quietly. But that will still run the risk of alienating potential Switch Lite fans who have experienced the drift firsthand.
The hybrid console might be one of the company’s most successful releases ever. But this issue could still wind up imperiling an otherwise beloved gaming system’s reputation.