Nintendo revealed a new model of the Switch this week that adds an OLED screen, enhanced speakers, and a much-improved kickstand. One thing it seems the OLED Switch won’t bring, however, is a fix for the Joy-Con drift issues that have plagued Switch owners for years — and frustratingly, Nintendo won’t even confirm that it won’t. A variety of publications including The Verge tried to ask the question, but Nintendo won’t tackle it head-on, despite other helpful answers like how the new Switch won’t have a new CPU.
Switch owners have been reporting Joy-Con drift problems for years, and the problem is bad enough that it’s the subject of numerous lawsuits — though Nintendo will unofficially fix controllers experiencing Joy-Con drift for free, even if you’re out of warranty. One of our top requests for a revised Switch was a fix for the drift problems, and we hoped that a Switch revision would have been the moment Nintendo finally addressed this major issue. But it seems likely that Nintendo did not take the opportunity to do so.
In a statement Nintendo provided to Wired, Polygon, GameSpot and The Verge, the company said that the “Joy-Con controller configuration and functionality did not change with Nintendo Switch (OLED model).” But we didn’t ask about the “configuration” or “functionality,” as it was pretty clear from Nintendo’s announcement that the controllers would be the same. We asked about drift, which is a reliability issue. And when we asked the question again in an even clearer fashion, we were referred to the same statement.
Reliability, not configuration or functionality
That seems to suggest there aren’t any changes. An FAQ on the company’s UK website is even more explicit: “The Joy-Con controllers included with Nintendo Switch (OLED model) are the same as the controllers currently available.”
Nintendo’s statement does acknowledge that there are problems with Joy-Con controllers — “We are aware of reports that some Joy-Con controllers have not responded correctly,” Nintendo said — but merely suggested that customers visit its support site to deal with any issues. That language isn’t new; Nintendo issued a very similar statement nearly two years ago after Vice published an internal Nintendo memo instructing customer service reps to fix Joy-Con drift issues for free.
And Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said that “we apologize for any inconvenience experienced by consumers” because of Joy-Con problems in an investor Q&A last year, but added that “I have no information to share about any specific actions we have taken” to fix issues, suggesting his hands were tied because of a class-action lawsuit in the US.
Until somebody can open up a set of Joy-Cons included with the new Switch, we won’t know for sure that there aren’t any unannounced fixes for the drift issues. But based on what Nintendo has said, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
While the OLED Switch may not have been the “Pro” upgrade we were hoping for, the improvements still make a big difference, according to my colleague Dieter Bohn, who got to try out the new Switch. But if you decide to pick up the $350 console when it launches October 8th, you might want to mentally prepare for the possibility that your new Joy-Cons might end up with the drift issue someday.
Here’s Nintendo’s full statement on the matter:
The Joy-Con controller configuration and functionality did not change with Nintendo Switch (OLED model). The configuration and functionally is the same as that of the Joy-con controllers for the Nintendo Switch console. At Nintendo, we take great pride in creating quality products and we are continuously making improvements to them. We are aware of reports that some Joy-Con controllers have not responded 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.