Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch fault plagues consumers, Which? warns

Chinese tutor Zhao plays a game on Nintendo Switch at his apartment in Beijing, China April 24, 2020. Picture taken April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Martin Pollard

Nintendo Switch Classic was first released in 2017. Photo: Martin Pollard/Reuters

Two in five UK Nintendo (NTDOY) Switch ‘Classic’ console owners have complained about a controller fault, with many being forced to buy a new £70 replacement, according to Which?.

The consumer trade body is demanding a ‘no-quibble’ and free of charge repair or replacement of all Joy-Con controllers sold in the UK by Nintendo as the fault makes some video games almost unplayable.

The controller fault with Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers is called drift and causes video game characters to move about on screen or cameras to zoom out awkwardly without the player even touching the control stick.

Around 40% of Nintendo Switch Classic owners surveyed by Which? reported experiencing drift, which first surfaced as a problem soon after the console was launched in 2017.

Of those who reported the faulty controller, around six in 10 (57%) said the problems occurred in the first year of them owning the games console, famed for Animal Crossing, Mario, The Legend of Zelda and other popular game franchises.

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Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Our research shows that drift problems continue to plague Nintendo Switch owners yet too often they can be left footing the bill themselves to replace faulty controllers or face a lottery when they contact Nintendo for support.

“Nintendo needs to commission an urgent independent investigation into why this problem occurs and make the findings public. The video game giant must also commit to completely free of charge repairs or replacements for those affected by the problem and must promote this scheme so that consumers know that support is available.”

About half of those surveyed that did not reach out to Nintendo or tried to repair the controller themselves admitted to just buying a new Joy-Con, which costs around £70 new.

Around a quarter (26%) of owners with problems did contact Nintendo for a replacement or fix.

Excluding those who tried to repair the controller themselves, the survey found one in five (19%) did not receive a free repair or replacement Joy-Con controller, likely leaving struggling consumers to cover the ‘drift deficit’ themselves. Another one in five (18%) had to cover the postage costs.

Which? said consumers are either not contacting Nintendo when this fault appears, as was the case for seven in 10 (73%), or they are facing a lottery when they do contact Nintendo for a free fix or replacement controller.

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This is despite Nintendo now offering a 24-month warranty on Switch consoles that should allow consumers to get a free fix or replacement controller.

“The percentage of Joy-Con controllers that have been reported as experiencing issues with the analogue stick in the past is small, and we have been making continuous improvements to the Joy-Con analogue stick since its launch in 2017,” Nintendo said.

“We expect all our hardware to perform as designed, and, if anything falls short of this goal, we always encourage consumers to contact Nintendo customer support, who will be happy to openly and leniently resolve any consumer issues related to the Joy-Con controllers’ analogue sticks, including in cases where the warranty may no longer apply.”

Which? is also calling for Nintendo to commission an independent investigation into the causes of drift on Joy-Con controllers and make the findings and outcomes of this investigation publicly available.

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