Nintendo Switch Joy Cons suffer from control stick drift

We’ve all experienced it in video games at one point in time, you let go of a control stick, yet your character still keeps moving on screen instead of standing still. With the Nintendo Switch, this issue affecting the control sticks for the Joy Con controllers is becoming all too common.


An example of the Joy Con control stick drift while playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

In the past, this issue was attributed to the control stick being held outside of its default position when the console was powered up, but could also be caused by dirt, physical damage or faulty manufacturing. However, with the Joy Con controllers, the cause is not 100% certain at this time.

Online, it’s not hard to find gamers reporting their frustrations and solutions to the malfunctioning control sticks. Some are suggesting cleaning the sticks using contact cleaner, or going to the extreme, by replacing the actual sticks with spare parts ordered from the Internet. (Some of these methods may invalidate your warranty, so proceed with care). Purchasing replacement Joy Cons are expensive, with most retailing for approximately $100 CAD (or $80 USD).

Kotaku even posted an article, detailing how a number of their own staffers are suffering through faulty Joy Cons, and tried reaching out to Nintendo for a statement on this issue. None was provided at the time of their publication.

I’ve owned my Switch for less than a year, and I started experiencing the drifting with the left Joy Con control stick two to three months ago. I would reset the calibration for the troublesome controller to the default settings, which would stave off the drifting for a few days before returning. Now, even toying with the calibration has no effect. I use my Switch almost every day as I work out (I play while riding my stationary bike) or when I can’t get TV time with the PlayStation 4.

Nintendo offers support online to correct the issue, which (in my experience) is only temporary as the problem re-appears shortly after. As a last resort, there is an online repair process where defective Joy Con controllers are sent to Nintendo for replacement for a small fee (approximately $4 according to some sources). However, this method is only available for those who reside in Canada or the United States.

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