Tag Archives: ‘JoyCon

Nintendo’s Switch Lite Is Selling Like Crazy, JoyCon Drift Be Damned

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The Switch Lite is selling incredibly well for Nintendo. The company revealed during its last quarterly report that it shipped 1.95 million Switch Lite consoles in the first ten days it was available. That compares well even against the Switch, which sold 2.74 million units in its first month on shelves when it launched in April 2017.

The Switch Lite’s performance is a bit surprising for two reasons: It’s a less expensive version of a new console, not a brand-new system, and the price difference between the two is not as large as some of the other consoles on the market. At $ 199, the Switch LiteSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce is definitely cheaper than a $ 299 Switch, but it’s not an enormous difference. It’s also got a significant negative stacked up against it — JoyCon drift. JoyCon drift is a problem where JoyCon controllers begin to register ghost “input” that occurs with no one actually touching the controller. It’s completely separate from any calibration problem, and we know the Switch Lite suffers from it — reports of JoyCon drift on the Switch Lite began to surface almost as soon as the console launched.

But any fear that the drift problem might lead to sales problems was apparently wrong. Nintendo has racked up huge results for the console in just the first few weeks. Nintendo moved 4.8M Switch consoles this quarter and 1.95M of them were the Switch Lite. Game sales were up 48 percent thanks to the strong performance of titles like Link’s Awakening. The Switch family is projected to beat the SNES lifetime (49.1M units) and could even top the 61.91M units sold over the lifetime of the original NES. Super Mario Maker 2 (3.93M units), Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2.29M units) were the other two major titles called out for top performance this quarter.

It’s striking to see how strong the Switch is performing in comparison with the last major handheld that Nintendo launched. The 3DS had major problems at launch, with slow sales and a weak game lineup. A lot of articles were written about how mobile games and handheld titles were eating the entire market, and consoles like the 3DS might be a casualty of this process. I remember thinking that the 3DS could probably be flipped into a success, but that the console would be unlikely to repeat the DS’ success. That’s more-or-less how things played out for Nintendo, while Sony was driven out of the handheld market altogether.

Given the rocky situation for handhelds, you might have expected Nintendo to move away from them altogether. Instead, the company explored the concept in two stages, first with the Wii U’s handheld controller (which generally failed), and then with the Switch, which rather obviously hasn’t. It’s an interesting example of how Nintendo was willing to stick with a concept and polish it when other companies might have pulled the plug and gone back to building more conventional living-room hardware. Instead of treating the Wii U as if it failed because of the controller, Nintendo obviously decided that it failed because the controller wasn’t an independent gaming system capable of running the living room games people wanted to play while simultaneously providing on-the-go options.

Sony and Microsoft continue to cater to the more traditional gaming crowd, and Nintendo’s JoyCon drift problem is a severe issue that the company should fix whether its hardware is popular or not. But the Japanese firm has a knack for finding the right way to zig when others are zagging.

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Joy-Con Drift Is Still a Problem on the Nintendo Switch Lite

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Ever since Nintendo launched the Switch, end users have been reporting problems with Joy-Con drift — defined as the controller continuing to register input in a specific direction without the user actually touching it. The issue became steadily worse over time until Nintendo eventually copped to it earlier this year and stopped charging people with out-of-warranty Joy-Cons for repairs they shouldn’t need. Some customers have seen Joy-Con drift appear within days of buying brand-new controllers.

It was hoped that Nintendo would take time with the Switch LiteSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce to actually fix the problem. As PCMag reports, that’s not what’s happened. Just days after the Switch Lite’s debut, reports of Jo-yCon drift are surfacing again, as in this YouTube video below. Multiple end-users have already tweeted about having Joy-Con drift problems. The Switch Lite has only been up for sale since September 20, five days ago:

Redditor Dwokimmortalus offers this explanation for why JoyCon drift occurs in the first place:

The way the joycon works is there are two v-shaped ‘needles’ that rock back and forth on two graphite contact strips. The needle position on the strip gives the x/y axis coords to the controller. However, the contact relationship of the pin to the strip is like dragging nails on a chalkboard, rather than running a ball-point pen over paper. The strip is very thin, and begins to degrade from the center point outward, causing the center point to eventually become unreadable.

Some users have modified their Joy-Con controllers to fix them at home, while others have taken advantage of Nintendo’s trade-in program. But the fact that the Switch Lite suffers from the same problem means fixing the issue on this console is an even bigger headache. There’s no way to detach the controllers from the device, so there’s no way to send them in for repair. Sending the Switch back to Nintendo means losing it for however long it takes the company to do the work.

iFixit’s Switch Lite teardown revealed various changes to the Joy-Con controller, but nothing the company thought would improve the drift issue. They write: “A popular guess at the cause of joystick drift is that the black contact pads under the sliders wear down over time. They appear unchanged here, but it’s possible they might be made of tougher stuff this time. Unfortunately that’s beyond the scope of our testing for now.”


Image by iFixit

The reports coming in from everywhere else suggest that they are not made from tougher stuff and still suffer exactly the same problem as the previous console family. Honestly, this is the kind of problem that would kill my interest in the Switch Lite. It’s one thing to be stuck dealing with a broken peripheral, but the controllers on the Lite aren’t peripherals; they’re fundamentally integrated into the rest of the unit. Granted, people are primed to be sensitive to the Joy-Con drift issue, but we already know that many Nintendo customers are having this problem.

Nintendo needs to do more about drift than just keep repairing the controllers and mailing them back to people. This isn’t an acceptable or minor flaw.

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Nintendo May Fix ‘Joy-Con Drift’ for Free, According to Leaked Memo

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The Nintendo Switch has been a massive hit for Nintendo, and the company is launching a cheaper “Lite” version of the console in just a few weeks. No game console is without its issues, though. Switch owners have increasingly reported “Joy-Con Drift” problems that cause unintended movements. It’s no “red ring of death,” but gamers are still annoyed. Now, Nintendo is reportedly taking it seriously, according to a leaked internal memo

Switch owners started whispering about Joy-Con Drift shortly after the console’s launch. Because of some internal hardware fault, the thumbsticks on some Joy-Con controllers begin registering movement even when you’re not touching them. The result is in-game avatars that slowly creep across the screen. 

Nintendo has always performed free repairs on Joy-Cons under warranty, but owners had to jump through all the usual hoops to confirm warranty status. If they couldn’t or the console was no longer under warranty, they’d have to pay for the repair. A new internal memo leaked to Vice Games indicates Nintendo is lifting restrictions in light of the problem’s scale. Nintendo has apparently informed reps that customers no longer have to provide proof of purchase for Joy-Con repairs. In addition, the company won’t even have to confirm warranty status. 

So, anyone with a defective Joy-Con can get it repaired for free — probably. Nintendo won’t confirm the internal memo at this time. We may need to wait for SwitchSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce owners to report back with their experiences dealing with the company. Vice did call Nintendo to report Joy-Con Drift, and the phone rep seemed happy to initiate a free repair. If you’ve already had your controllers repaired, the memo says representatives should issue a refund after confirming the previous repair. Out-of-warranty repairs for Joy-Con Drift reportedly cost about $ 40 prior to this change, and Nintendo’s memo says customers who complain about the charge for previous repairs can get a refund. 

Nintendo doesn’t acknowledge in the memo that there’s a pervasive problem with the Joy-Cons, but it is giving customers the benefit of the doubt. We can only hope the company is taking the issue seriously. The new Switch Lite doesn’t have removable controllers like the original Switch. If those thumbsticks have the same issues, it will be much more annoying to have the hardware repaired or replaced. 

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