Nintendo's Joy-Con Drift Leads to Class-Action Lawsuit

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Complaints of issues with Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers are getting even more serious. On Friday, Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP (CSK&D) announced that it was filing a class-action lawsuit against Nintendo over the "drifting" problem many Switch owners have experienced with the console's Joy-Con controllers. The suit alleged that the joystick used in the Joy-Con, which appears to be registering movement even when it's stationary, is disruptive to gameplay.

Usually people can find some respite from a defective controller by using another system. But the entire point of the Switch--at least until Nintendo announced the Switch Lite earlier this month--is that it's supposed to adapt to various contexts. It can be used like a traditional console plugged in to a TV, it can be a handheld device, and it can be an all-in-one game station thanks to its built-in kickstand. Nintendo wanted it to be used everywhere.

The Joy-Con controllers are a critical aspect of that adaptability. Players can buy third-party controllers to use when the Switch is docked, and the console's display is equipped with a touchscreen, but the Joy-Con controllers are the only input method that can be used in every context. Pull them off to use the Switch when docked, snap 'em on to use the console as a handheld, and use them as mini gamepads when it's standing on its kickstand.

All that promise is ruined if the Joy-Con doesn't work properly. Many people have complained about this problem, along with other Joy-Con-related issues, since the Switch's release in 2017. Nintendo doesn't appear to have acknowledged the issue, fixed it with recent manufacturing runs, or offered most Switch owners free repairs for any problematic Joy-Con. Hence this lawsuit. CSK&D explained in the suit's introduction:

"Defendant, which manufactured, marketed, and sold the Switch and Joy-Con controllers, is aware of the defect through online consumer complaints, complaints made by consumers to Defendant, and through its own pre-release testing. [...] Yet, notwithstanding its knowledge of its manufacturing defect, Defendant fails to disclose the defect and routinely refuses to repair the joysticks without charge when the defect manifests and never disclosed this material defect to consumers."

Nintendo finally responded to the Joy-Con-troversy in a statement to The Verge on Friday:

"At Nintendo, we take great pride in creating quality products and we are continuously making improvements to them. We are aware of recent reports that some Joy-Con controllers are not responding correctly. We want our consumers to have fun with Nintendo Switch, and if anything falls short of this goal we always encourage them to visit so we can help."

Switch owners affected by the Joy-Con drifting issue can attempt to join the class-action lawsuit via CSK&D's website.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.