Shortly after launch, the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers developed a reputation for being prone to hardware failures – the most prominent of which was Joy-Con drift, a phenomenon that causes the controller to falsely register inputs.
Now, an anonymous spokesperson for a US repair company has shed some light on just how many Joy-Con repair requests were made during the height of the problem and the challenges it caused.
According to a report by Kotaku, a former supervisor for the Switch repair facility (which was run by United Radio under contract with Nintendo) said that the company would receive “easily thousands” of faulty units each week during the height of Switch’s Joy-Con drift issues.
The sheer volume of repair requests made work “very stressful” according to the former employee, which led to high turnover and resulted in “lots of” repair mistakes. A Kotaku source said customers who sent their Joy-Con for repair from 2017 to 2018 were sent brand new replacements, but after the first year, the company had to repair every set of Joy-Con that came in.
At one point, the amount of Joy-Con repair requests were so high, that the company had to set up an “entire new workspace just for Joy-Con repair” and that staff turnover and temporary workers made training new staff difficult.
Catch my drift
Nintendo has come under fire for the way it handled Joy-Con drift in particular and has faced a number of class-action lawsuits, including one from a child. The Japanese company formally apologized for the issue in June 2020, and Nintendo previously told The Verge: “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 http://support.nintendo.com so we can help.”
However, in a Q&A discussing the development of the new Nintendo Switch OLED, senior executive and general manager of technology development Ko Shiota conceded that even though the company has made “improvements that may not always be visible” to the Joy-Con since 2017, wear is unavoidable when physical parts are in contact with one another.
“…car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to rotate,” said Shiota-san. “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.”