With the launch of the Nintendo Switch OLED model tomorrow, consumers will have the option to pay $ 50 more (with regional equivalents) for a system with notable improvements over the other models – an improved and bigger screen, a new stand, an updated dock with an ethernet port, more internal storage, etc. One thing that cannot be improved based on available evidence is the Joy-Con controllers – as many can attest, this is a constant source of disappointment.
The problem of Joy-Con “drifting” and the error rate of the controller – where the inputs of the stick no longer work exactly – has been a simmering topic since the switch was introduced in 2017. It has led to class action lawsuits and quite a bit of pressure on Nintendo, and in the summer of 2019 it emerged that out-of-warranty repairs were also being offered free of charge. It’s not necessarily the case in every country and territory, but it seems a fairly common guideline for Nintendo to deal with Joy-Con issues for free.
However, this is not enough to satisfy all stakeholders as it is still argued that Nintendo continues to sell a product with known and persistent defects. Euroconsumers is a group representing five national consumer organizations and has issued a press release challenging Nintendo for its continued sale of the existing Joy-Cons.
Here are some excerpts from the press release:
The new version of the Nintendo “Switch” console, the Switch OLED, expected on October 8, 2021, has an unsolved technical problem with its controllers – an issue commonly referred to as “Joy-Con drift” – affecting gamers prevents the game from playing properly. Nintendo is well aware of this flaw. However, there are still plans to introduce the new switch with the old problem. Euroconsumers calls Nintendo to account.
… This bug has already been addressed at Nintendo. Test Achats / Test Aankoop, the Belgian national organization of Euroconsumers, first sent a letter of formal notice to Nintendo Europe GmbH in January 2020, in which they asked the company to repair all defective products free of charge and to publicly communicate the defect.
In January 2021, BEUC, the European umbrella organization of 46 independent consumer organizations, published an external warning to the CPC network about a widespread violation of EU consumer law with Union-wide implications in connection with the premature obsolescence of the Nintendo Switch.
In addition to this EU lawsuit, two class actions have been filed in the US and a Canadian company has filed a class action lawsuit.
Still, Nintendo took no action to fix the bug or warn consumers. There’s even a new Switch OLED with the exact same Joy-Con design with the exact same inevitable defect. Meanwhile, Nintendo continues to place great emphasis on the quality and versatility of the Joy-Con in its advertising.
This premature obsolescence is not only unfair and harmful to consumers, it also has an impact on the environment and creates a pile of unnecessary and extremely polluting e-waste.
Euroconsumers claims to have sent a letter to Nintendo with four requests: to inform consumers appropriately about drift and to clarify the expected life cycle on packaging; fully comply with the statutory product guarantee without any burden of proof or costs for the consumer; provide clear contact details to Nintendo to resolve the Joy-Con problem; Fixed the bug to ensure a “more sustainable version of the controllers”. Euroconsumers also makes it clear that it will participate in dialogues and tests with Nintendo.
Of course, a lot of attention has been paid to the Joy-Con controllers, which has led to various formal complaints like this one; Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa even apologized to investors in the summer of 2020. However, aside from some speculation in various places, there is little evidence of any notable improvement in Joy-Con design or reliability lately.
Often times, Nintendo’s approach to the problem has been to say very little, and arguably all is said until legal solutions are pending. However, with the arrival of the OLED model, Joy-Con Drift gets a new airtime.
It’s also worth noting that Switch owners have found several DIY Joy-Con fixes like this one, though it comes with its own set of challenges and risks.
Let us know what you think of the Euroconsumer comments and the ongoing issue of Joy-Con ‘drift’ as well.