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Sony Faces DualSense Controller Drifting Class Action

— February 19, 2021

Sony is joining other big names in the gaming industry in being on the receiving end of a lawsuit alleging its DualSense controllers are drifting due to a hardware defect.  The newest class action has been filed by law firm Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of named plaintiff Lmarc Turner and other affected consumers and claims that Sony is “selling defective DualSense controllers which suffer from joysticks that register movement without player input,” according to court documents.

The lawsuit explains further, “Specifically, the DualSense controllers that are used to operate the PS5 contain a defect that results in characters or gameplay moving on the screen without user command or manual operation of the joystick.  This defect significantly interferes with gameplay and thus compromises the DualSense controller’s core functionality.”

The gaming console launched in November of last year, and just two weeks after it hit the market, a video demonstrating the DualSense drift was posted on Reddit.  This video was followed by several others.

Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

The latest lawsuit claims Sony is “aware of the DualSense being faulty due to complaints already filed, but also that consumers must pay the shipping fees to send a DualSense controller to Sony for repair even though they are still under warranty.”  It also states, “Customers are experiencing long wait times and having to deal with a maze of pre-recorded phone prompts before finally speaking with an agent concerning repairs for DualSense controller drift.”

Around the same time that DualSense began to take heat for its issues, Microsoft and Nintendo were fending off reports of their own game controller drifting issues, which both companies compelled plaintiffs to settle through arbitration.  Turner has reportedly already written a letter to Sony informing the company he is opting out of resolving the litigation through arbitration, but it is unclear whether his wishes will be upheld. “Had Plaintiff been aware of the drift defect prior to purchasing his PS5, he otherwise would not have purchased the PS5, or would have paid substantially less for it,” court documents state.

Nintendo’s Switch joysticks were also fundamentally flawed, according to an expert that evaluated them last fall, stating for the court, “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 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.”

It is unclear why there have been so many issues with flawed hardware across gaming consoles as of late.  The Sony complaint is demanding a jury trial as well as monetary relief “for damages suffered, declaratory relief, and public injunctive relief.


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