Nintendo has confirmed that the Joy-Cons included with the Switch OLED are the “latest version”, with improvements made to combat Joy-Con drift.
In the latest of its Ask the Developer features (formerly Iwata Asks), general manager Ko Shiota and deputy general manager Toru Yamashita of Nintendo’s Technology Development Division were asked about the improvements made to the Joy-Con controller’s analogue sticks.
“Joy-Con controllers have lots of different features, so we’ve been continuing to make improvements that may not always be visible,” Yamashita said. “Among others, the analogue stick parts have continuously been improved since launch, and we are still working on improvements.
“The analogue stick at first release cleared the Nintendo reliability test using the method of rotating the stick while continually applying a load to it, with the same criteria as the Wii U GamePad’s analogue stick.
“As we have always been trying to improve it as well, we have investigated the Joy-Con controllers used by the customers and repeatedly improved the wear resistance and durability,” he continued.
“The parts of the Joy-Con analogue sticks are not something that can be bought off the shelf but are specially designed, so we have undergone a lot of considerations to improve them. In addition, we improved the reliability test itself, and we have continued to make changes to improve durability and clear this new test.
“When the effects of our improvements were confirmed, we promptly incorporated them into the Joy-Con controllers that are included with the console, Nintendo Switch Lite, and the ones sold individually, that were manufactured at that time.
“This involves the internal components of the Joy-Con, so you can’t tell the improvements from the outside, but we use the new versions of the parts when we repair them. Also, similar continual improvements have been made for the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller as well.”
Shiota explained that all analogue sticks wear over time, because the parts are physically in contact. “For example, car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to rotate,” he said.
“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.”
Yamashita added: “The degree of wear depends on factors like the combination of the materials and forms, so we continue to make improvements by researching which combinations are less likely to wear.
“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 analogue sticks in the Joy-Con controllers included with Nintendo Switch OLED Model are the latest version with all the improvements.
“Needless to say, so are the analogue sticks included in Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, separately sold Joy-Con controllers, and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller that are currently being shipped.”
Joy-Con drift has been a recurring issue for Switch owners since the console launched in 2017.
Earlier this year the European Commission was called upon to investigate Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issues by consumer rights umbrella group BEUC.
The group, which represents 44 independent consumer organisations from 32 countries, filed a letter of complaint with the European Commission regarding “a widespread infringement with Union dimension of EU consumer law, related to the premature obsolescence of the product called Nintendo Switch”.
The Switch isn’t the only console facing complaints about analogue stick drift. A class-action lawsuit brought against Sony in February 2021 alleges that PS5 DualSense controllers “contain a defect that results in characters or gameplay moving on the screen without user command or manual operation of the joystick”.