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Nintendo's Recent Durability Problems [roundtable]
 
I love my Switch. It's an amazing system with one of the fullest, finest libraries in Nintendo history, and it's only halfway through its lifecycle so far! I've got an extensive collection of modern AAA titles like Mario Odyssey, high-quality third-party gems like Dragon Quest XI and Octopath Traveler, indie darlings like Cuphead, and legacy compilations like Mega Man Zero and Collection of Mana, ensuring that there'll be hours and hours of gameplay to enjoy for decades to come.

But I won't enjoy it for decades to come.

Because the freaking controllers keep breaking!

A year ago, Joy-Con stick drift was a total disaster. The fail rate was very high, although no official polling was taken, it seemed to be as common as 2/3rds of all controllers. If it hadn't reared its ugly head for some players, it almost certainly would soon. But Nintendo (very quietly) offered a solution--send in the controllers and they would fix them, free of charge. Seemingly, this would be the solution. I got all four of my Joy-Cons fixed, and bought a discounted new pair on Black Friday for good measure.

Guess what: they all are drifting again! And the real salt in the wound is that my Pro Controller--a $70 behemoth that's my preferred way to game on the Switch--is also drifting now. This can only mean that the fixes are only temporary, the new controllers still have the problem, and many if not most Switch controllers in existence right now are ticking time bombs to uselessness!

This level of QA isn't acceptable, guys. Part of the value in video games to me is their permanence and the ability to revisit them 10, 20, 30 years later. But over the past decade or so, Nintendo's really been dropping the ball in this department: my Wii U's Gamepad battery life is under an hour now, my 3DS's A button sticks, my Wii U GameCube adapter only works with the 1P port, and my Wii nuked itself and had to be sent in for repairs twice. The days of dropping GameCubes off buildings and bombing Game Boys are over, replaced with games that I simply don't want to revisit because of hardware issues. Heck--I'm considering buying the rumored Pikmin 3 port solely because I don't want to be irked with a 40-minute charge on my Wii U controller. It feels like a rip-off!

So what's the solution? Are they getting cheaper labor/parts in China or something? Are they simply cutting corners in terms of quality to keep costs down? I'd be happy to pay a little more to avoid the hassle of sending things in repeatedly, and I'm sure Nintendo would be happier with Joy-Cons not having to constantly be replaced. It's just a real fly in the ointment and I feel they should know better about analogue stick manufacturing considering they practically invented the dang things.

What are your stories of defective hardware? Am I (and my sister-in-law, and my friend) the odd one out with Joy-Con troubles?

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Posted: 05/15/20, 21:24:33
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I had one start drifting in September, groaned, figured that that was my one allotted inconvenience as part of this whole thing, sent it in and got it fixed... and now my other one is drifting too! And you're saying that previously-repaired Joy-Cons can start drifting again? And Pro Controllers? Ruh-roh.

You'd almost think there'd be a software update that they could push to recognize when an analog stick is drifting vs. actually being pushed in a certain direction. Does anyone know what causes the issue in the first place?

The Pro Controller is my favorite controller ever, it's so comfortable! But its d-pad isn't up to Nintendo's quality either, Tetris 99 is impossible to play with it since it registers Up inputs when you press Left sometimes.

The Wii U gamepad battery is disappointing too. I just consider it to be a wired controller at this point. But that's also true for my GBA SP, it's just the nature of rechargeable batteries I think? Not very Lindy...
Posted: 05/15/20, 21:35:43
Iíve had two Joy-Con drift since launch. Sent them in and repaired for free. Havenít had an issue since.

*knocks on wood*
Posted: 05/15/20, 23:27:22
It feels like in trying to provide so many different ways to interact with their games starting with the Wii, they've introduced a lot more moving parts and a lot more combinations that need to be tested. And maybe their QA hasn't changed or expanded enough to meet that increased workload; by having so many different controllers and ways to use them, maybe they've spread themselves too thin and more problems are slipping through the cracks. It's tough to say. It is disappointing, though. It's hasn't been the same reliable Nintendo hardware that they were once widely known for.

I didn't have the Joy-Con drift issue specifically, but my launch left Joy-Con analog stick just straight-up went bad and is pretty much unusable. I have it permanently installed in the Ring-Con for now, so it's not a big deal, but hopefully it doesn't happen to my remaining good pair of Joy-Cons.
Posted: 05/16/20, 00:08:08
I'm very forgiving about hardware issues that pop up when new hardware is released since I understand that this consumer electronics thing isn't easy and sometimes unforseen issues crop up. It's cool... when the company takes care of the problem and corrects it for the affected users. The Joycon drift is ridiculous after three years without Nintendo acknowleding that it is indeed a very common problem (pretty much happens to everybody given enough time) and re-engineering some decent analog sticks for these expensive ass controllers in-house instead of using garbage off-the-shelf parts. No, instead they double downed and released a new Switch handheld with the same cheap nonsense sticks baked right in and continue to sell junky Joycons for $80. Eighty dollars! Holy shit!

The Switch is cheaply built in lots of other ways too. Mine is bending slightly (not enough to be an issue but c'mon!) and has a crack up on top of the back casing even though I've never once dropped the thing. What? Where did that come from? The plastic on the back of my Pro Controller cracked too. I did drop that several times, but I can throw my Wavebird or Wii Remote across a room and they will be fine. So I've won the jackpot of suffering from every major Switch issue as an adult who takes good care of my stuff. Yikes.

I hope this isn't the way Nintendo is going to operate from now on in terms of hardware durability and they were just trying to save some money after the huge flopping of the Wii U, perhaps not knowing if Switch was going to be a hit or not.
Posted: 05/16/20, 05:23:17
Yeah, I had previously sent in a Joy Con for drift, and now the right stick on my Switch Lite started drifting. Even a diehard fan like me has to admit that it sucks.

It is seriously puzzling. You'd think that they would've fixed it already if it were a simple engineering error. I think that dust and debris under the stick might be the issue, because of how the controllers are put together. Supposedly, you can squirt some WD-40 contact cleaner under the stick flap and wiggle it around to make it work again. We should all get a can.

Another issue is the weak/inconsistent Bluetooth signal from the Joy Con to the system. Oh, and the shitty wifi in the system itself.

The screen scratching from the dock is also irritating, but at least it only scratches the bezel.

Anyway, as soon as an improved version is introduced, I will ditch my Switch.

But, yeah, Nintendo's build quality has taken a hit. The last really solidly built systems were the Wii and the original DS.

Hinph said:

The Switch is cheaply built in lots of other ways too. Mine is bending slightly (not enough to be an issue but c'mon!) and has a crack up on top of the back casing even though I've never once dropped the thing. What? Where did that come from? The plastic on the back of my Pro Controller cracked too. I did drop that several times, but I can throw my Wavebird or Wii Remote across a room and they will be fine. So I've won the jackpot of suffering from every major Switch issue as an adult who takes good care of my stuff. Yikes.

OBJECTION!
Posted: 05/16/20, 14:34:42  - Edited by 
 on: 05/16/20, 14:39:50
@Anand

Haha, I wouldn't actually do it! But if I did, I'd put my bets down on them surviving the incident. My Wavebirds still feel as good to use as they did in 2002... that's after quite a few Smash Bros games.

And when I've dropped my Pro Controller, it was like from the couch onto carpet. The back plastic really is that cheap.
Posted: 05/16/20, 15:54:46
TriforceBun said:
Are they getting cheaper labor/parts in China or something? Are they simply cutting corners in terms of quality to keep costs down?
I'm pretty sure it's these two, particularly the first one. I believe it was back around 2004 when Nintendo first switched their manufacturing from Japan to China, and that was the beginning of the decline in the quality of their physical products.

To be fair however, this is a problem with all companies. Pretty much everything these days is made from cheap junk produced in China or Korea.
Posted: 05/16/20, 20:55:24
The DS phat was the beginning of the end for the age of Nintendonium with how it's screens develop dead pixels if you look at them wrong. However, there were plenty of issues with Nintendo hardware before that. The GBA SP can somehow get specs of dust stuck between it's display and the plastic protective layer, and the GameCube has developed a decent rate of corrupting memory cards from what I've heard.

I really wish we'd gotten that XL version of the DS lite that was supposedly scrapped at the last minute, just to get another shot at having a GBA compatible DS that can stand the test of time.
Posted: 05/16/20, 22:50:32
@pokepal148 Don't forget the Wii and its disk drive that eventually starts to sound like a helicopter is about to take off.

I have a set of JoyCons that drift. I haven't looked into shipping them back to Nintendo. Anyone have a link to the procedure on that?
Posted: 05/16/20, 23:09:35
I also forgot the N64's infamous joystick problems, the NES's 72 pin connector for cartridges getting damaged over time because of it's design, and the SNES turning yellow when exposed to direct sunlight.
Posted: 05/17/20, 00:45:00
Secret_Tunnel said:
And you're saying that previously-repaired Joy-Cons can start drifting again? And Pro Controllers? Ruh-roh.
Ruh roh indeed. I haven't noticed any drifting in my Joy-Cons, though I almost never use them so it wouldn't be a huge deal. But Pro Controllers also can drift? Dag...
Posted: 05/17/20, 00:47:29
@kriswright
Just call Customer Support. Their Repair Center is currently closed, but they'll set it up and email you when it opens.
Posted: 05/17/20, 00:49:02
@nate38

Well, any analog stick can develop drifting problems. I'm sure it's much less common on the Pro Controller and right in line with Xbox One and PS4 controllers.

I had a really good run without drifting Joycons too and was starting to feel like maybe I'm easier on my controllers than most people or something... but nope. Just started drifting a couple weeks ago. Haha. Alcohol and q-tip fixed it, but I know that's a temporary fix and it will return eventually. At least I have another pair of Joycons to use while waiting for Nintendo to reopen their repair centers. I'm also considering repairing it myself though since I'm totally confident I can handle it and that sort of thing can be sort of fun.
Posted: 05/17/20, 01:02:48  - Edited by 
 on: 05/17/20, 01:03:34
It would have been nice if rather than Nintendo dropping to Sony/MS level of quality Sony and MS rose to the quality Nintendo once had. But alas, it seems instead we've gotten an averaging-out closer to the quality of the other consoles. Man, my PS2 broke so many times it was a surprise it wasn't made out of duct tape and chewing gum by the end! But that's corporate business for you, I suppose. I'm glad Nintendo customer service still rocks, so when there are issues we can get quick and usually-free fixes.

It does make me scratch my head why they wouldn't just fix the manufacturing issue, though. I guess it must be really expensive to do, and the cost of the occasional person sending their joycons back is worth it by comparison. I'm sure more than 50% of people with a Switch either don't notice the drift or don't care, and likely a percentage who do care just go buy another set instead of sending theirs in.

I'm just glad this isn't an XBOX360 RROD level issue. It is a pain, but it isn't "oh, my console literally just bricked, let me wrap it in a towel" kind of pain. And that happened to me with the 360 (and the towel worked, lol. For a while at least).
Posted: 05/17/20, 03:12:52  - Edited by 
 on: 05/17/20, 03:18:01
Joy-cons have some fundamental flaw. It's not a matter of "if" they break, it's a matter of "when." There's no such thing as a working joy-con, just one that hasn't broken yet. Even if you get them replaced, they will stop working.

I got a knockoff handheld controller on Amazon and it feels pretty good to play games without fear of joy-con drift.
Posted: 20:11:08
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