Nintendo engineers suggest Switch Joy-Con drift will never be fixed

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‘It’s something we’re constantly dealing with.’

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One of the frequent flaws of the Nintendo Switch is Joy-Con drift, a phenomenon where players observe false inputs when they are not even touching the joysticks on the controllers. Nintendo has been relatively quiet on the subject for years, and the company declined to say whether the new OLED-equipped Nintendo Switch OLED fixed the issue. But today, the company is largely breaking its silence — and suggesting that the Joy-Con drift may never be fully addressed.

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In a new Q&A about the evolution of the Nintendo Switch OLED, the company revealed that it is continuously improving the Joy-Cons and trying to make them more reliable. The joysticks that came with the 2019 Switch Lite aren’t the same as the original 2017 Switch, and they’re constantly getting refined.

But a Nintendo executive Ko Shiota, who also serves as GM of Nintendo’s technology development division, basically says the Joy-Con will be Always wear down over time.

Do you mean that, basically, wear is inevitable as long as the parts are physically in contact?

Shiota: Yes, for example, car tires wear out when the car is running, because they are in constant friction with the ground in order to rotate. So with that same premise, we asked ourselves how can we improve sustainability, and not only that, but how can both operability and sustainability coexist? This is something that we are constantly dealing with.

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The joysticks included with the OLED models are “the latest versions with all the improvements,” as are the joysticks that ship with the base Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, Joy-Con controllers and Pro controllers, the company says. “The analog-stick parts have been continuously improved since launch, and we are still working on improvements,” says Deputy General Manager Toru Yamashita. When you get your Joy-Cons repaired, Yamashita says they’ll also use the latest versions of those sticks for the repair.

The OLED Switch will be released on Friday, and we’ll have to wait and see if these improvements actually make the Joy-Cons more resilient to drift over time. But it looks like Nintendo never expects to completely solve the Joy-Con drift.

The whole interview is long but worth it read full, because it’s a rare opportunity to hear directly from Nintendo about how the hardware is developing.

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