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Nintendo’s Joy-Con Drift Woes Continue, Another Lawsuit Filed

— November 30, 2020

Nintendo continues to face issues with Joy-Con drift.

Nintendo is facing yet another class action lawsuit for its Joy-Con drift, filed on behalf of a minor plaintiff this month in a Seattle court.  The product has had technical issues which have caused the company to face numerous lawsuits in the United States and around the world.  Joy-Con drift occurs when the controllers (joysticks) “drift,” causing a character or cursor to move haphazardly.  Due to the sheer number of complaints, Nintendo began offering free repairs some time ago.  However, the issue continued to happen even with newer consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch Lite, and the repair efforts haven’t helped.

“This defect significantly interferes with gameplay and this compromises the Switch and Joy-Con controller’s core functionality,” the Seattle lawsuit reads. “Notwithstanding its knowledge of the defect, Nintendo has failed to disclose this material information to consumers, and routinely refuses to repair the joysticks without charge when the drift defect manifests.”

Plaintiff’s attorneys in the latest suit laid out a technical breakdown completed by an expert who contends Joy-Con drift is caused “by wear on the interior pads of the controller.”  The attorneys further allege “Nintendo is aware of the problem and is not appropriately informing its customers.”

Nintendo's Joy-Con Drift Woes Continue, Another Lawsuit Filed
Photo by Enrique Vidal Flores on Unsplash

“As the steel brushes inside of the joystick move back and forth, they rub away the soft carbon material that makes up the pad, which changes its electrical resistance and leads the drifting phenomenon,” the expert stated. “The difference in surface hardness between the steel brush and the carbon pad results in excessive wear debris that collects on the steel brush tips.  This transferred debris exacerbates the wear of the pad.  The wear of the carbon (a known soft material) by the steel brushes (a known hard material) inevitably causes the joysticks to fail.”

The lawsuit indicates the issue began happening within three months of the plaintiff purchasing a Nintendo Switch system.  The controllers “were repaired by Nintendo but failed again after several more months.”  The suit states, “Nintendo repaired the controllers for a $40 fee” and the minor used his own money.  Yet, it did little to correct the problem.

The lawsuit includes images of the teardown, as well as electron microscope images showcasing damage on the circuits.  It alleges “unlawful and unfair conduct,” as well as consumer fraud.

A similar case filed in Washington has gone to arbitration, and another, filed in October in California, is still pending.  The October case, filed by Luz Sanchez on behalf of her 10-year-old son, seeks $5 million in damages.  “Within a year,” the plaintiff claimed, “the drift became so pronounced that the controllers became inoperable for general gameplay use.”  Although Sanchez purchased a replacement set, the new set began to have notable drifting within seven months.

The lawsuit states, “Defendant continues to market and sell the products with full knowledge of the defect and without disclosing the Joy-Con Drift defect to consumers in its marketing, promotion, or packaging.  Defendant has had a financial motive to conceal the defect, as it did not want to stop selling the products, and/or would need to expend a significant amount of money to cure the defect.”


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