A class action lawsuit has been filed against Nintendo over the anecdotally widespread issue of Switch joy-con drift, a phenomenon where the Switch registers input from the joy-con analogue stick(s), even when they are not being touched. The suit was filed last Friday in the western district of Washington state by legal firm Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith, which feels like something an AI would name a law firm if you trained an AI to name law firms.
The lawsuit claims that “the Joy-Con Controllers that are part of the Switch contain a defect that can result in the joystick moving or activating on its own (‘drifting’) and manipulating game play without manual operation by the user. This defect affects the video game play on the device and thus compromises the Switch and Joy-Con controller’s core functionality.” Furthermore, the suit attests that Nintendo is “aware of the defect through online consumer complaints, complaints made by consumers to Defendant, and through its own pre-release testing,” though how the plaintiff would have acquired that last bit of knowledge is beyond me.
Since Nintendo supposedly knows about the issue, but sells the allegedly defective product anyway and charges money to fix the problem it knew it was causing, this constitutes “unfair, deceptive, and/or fraudulent business practices.” Specifically, “violations of California consumer fraud statutes, negligent misrepresentation, breach of implied warranty, unjust enrichment, and … violations of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act,” which I’m sure we’re all deeply familiar with.
You can read the full complaint here if you’d like (warning: PDF link), there’s an extended section where Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith meticulously cites numerous posts on Reddit and GameFAQs to back up the claim that joy-con drift is a real, pervasive issue. And it is, by all accounts; one that has yet to affect this writer, but has definitely resulted in personal friends purchasing replacement joy-cons they otherwise would never have bought.
It also doesn’t help anything that joy-cons are the most expensive default controller on the market right now. A full replacement set costs $69.99 on Amazon, compared to
$46.96 for Sony’s Dual Shock 4 or $43.85 for an Xbox One controller. And even if you don’t buy a set of two, a single joy-con is still going to run you $41.75. All of these prices are higher at other retailers, so the material impact of a busted joy-con is nothing to sneeze at.
Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith is accepting sign-ups for the class action suit. If you’ve purchased a joy-con that seems haunted, you can click here to give them all of your personal information and join the suit.
As with most legal matters, it will likely be years before anything comes of the lawsuit either way. Nintendo may not even be selling these specific joy-cons once things wrap up, if and when they ever do wrap up, considering that a revamped Switch is already on the way. Nintendo has never officially acknowledged joy-con drift, of course, so naturally it hasn’t addressed whether the new HAC-001(-01) units (read: them new Switches what got the longer battery life) do anything to solve the problem. If I were Nintendo, though, I’d probably use a quiet, under-the-radar upgrade like that to fix something I didn’t want folk to know about. But I’m not Nintendo.