Nintendo is Improving Joy-Cons to Avoid Drift, But Says it’s Inevitable

The company compares it to car tires' eventual wear.

Nintendo has given two notable updates on the Switch’s on-going issues with Joy-Con drift, or how the console/handheld hybrid’s controllers have a tendency to detect input on their analog sticks where there is none. One update is good, the second? Less so.

Let’s start with the good news. In an “Ask the Developer” post on the company’s official site, Technology General Manager Ko Shiota and Deputy General Manager of Technology Development Toru Yamashita explained that Nintendo has been updating the builds for Joy-Cons in the wake of drift, so that means more recent and future Joy-Con controllers will more durable, thus less prone to drift. However, the bad news is that the company has come to the conclusion that Joy-Con drift is an inevitable reality of the controller’s design with Shiota comparing it to tire wear on a car.

“For example car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to rotate,” Shiota says. “So with that same premise, we asked ourselves how we can improve durability, and not only that, but how can both operability and durability coexist? It’s something we are continuously tackling.”

Nintendo may think this is a problem it can’t solve, but the Joy-Cons that were included in the recent OLED Switch model have received some updates that will at least make them last longer than controllers that came before.

“We mentioned that the Joy-Con controller specifications hadn’t changed in the sense that we didn’t add new features such as new buttons, but the analog sticks in the Joy-Con controllers included with Nintendo Switch – OLED Model are the latest version with all the improvements,” Yamashita says. “Needless to say, so are the analog sticks included in Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, separately sold Joy-Con controllers, and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller that are currently being shipped.”

In the years since Joy-Con drift became a known issue, Nintendo has been dealing with a class-action lawsuit, which was updated to include users who bought the Nintendo Switch Lite. Last year, the lawyers involved asked users for video testimony on how drift had affected their experience with the system. While Nintendo’s issues with analog drift have been the most publicized, it’s not a problem exclusive to the company. Sony is dealing with similar issues with the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller.