Switch’s Joy-Con controllers have become notorious for their struggles with “drift”, to the point that lawsuits have been launched over the issue, the EU has pledged to investigate, and Nintendo’s president has even formally apologised. A new report, though, shines additional light on the extent of the issue, claiming that Nintendo’s US arm was receiving “easily thousands” of faulty controllers a week for repair at the height of the problem.
That’s according to a new report by Kotaku, which, citing a former supervisor at the Switch repair facility (run by United Radio under contract with Nintendo), claims the volume of repairs got so high – with “hundreds” of faulty controllers arriving each day – that work became “very stressful”, leading to high turnover in the department and “lots of” repair mistakes.
Nintendo’s initial response to the Joy-Con drift problem, reportedly saw the company providing replacements for customers’ faulty Joy-Cons between 2017 and 2018; however, that policy is said to have eventually changed and repair staff were then required to repair every set of Joy-Cons received. At the height of Switch’s Joy-Con drift issues, Nintendo’s repair centre was reportedly receiving “easily thousands” of faulty units each week, necessitating the establishment of new workplace specifically for controller repairs.
The mandated pace of repairs – reportedly requiring as many as 90 percent of units to be fixed in four days – is said to have been “difficult to maintain”.
Reportedly exacerbating the issue was a lack of senior expertise within the team – blamed on the high turnaround of temporary employees from supplier Aerotek – which is said to have lead to “frequent mistakes” in repairs.
Joy-Con drift has dogged the Switch since its release in 2016, but last year saw Nintendo announcing it had “improved” the controller’s problematic analogue sticks, making hardware changes to enhance durability, and improving its reliability testing. It’s unclear what impact – if any – these changes may have had on Nintendo’s repair team based on Kotaku’s article.
Today’s report of challenging conditions for third-party contractors at Nintendo follows the news earlier this week that a Nintendo employee had filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board, claiming the company had interfered in unionisation efforts. In response to requests for comment, Nintendo said it had previously fired the employee in question for the “disclosure of confidential information and for no other reason”, saying it was “not aware of any attempts to unionise or related activity”.