In context: Joy-Con drift has been a long-standing problem with the Nintendo Switch. While joystick drifting is not exclusive to Nintendo, it does seem to be more pronounced and frequent. The company has been aware of the defect for over three years but has done little to fix it aside from offering free repairs, which ultimately break down as well.
On Wednesday, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission against Nintendo. The France-based watchdog group claims it has received over 25,000 complaints regarding joystick drift in Nintendo's Joy-Con Controllers for the Switch. The BEUC claims that in 88 percent of reported cases, the defect manifested within two years of purchase, amounting to "premature obsolescence."
"On behalf of consumer groups in affected countries, BEUC has submitted a complaint to the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities for premature obsolescence and misleading omissions of key consumer information (on the basis of the EU's Unfair Commercial Practices Directive)," the BEUC said in a press release.
Joy-Con drift has been a persistent problem since the Switch launched in March 2017. The first reports of faulty joysticks began showing up as early as November 2017. The defect is not isolated to the detachable Joy-Cons either. Drift in the Switch Lite joysticks and the Pro Controller also began emerging shortly after their release.
Despite multiple on-going class-action lawsuits, Nintendo has been slow in addressing the problem. Apologies and free repairs do not solve the underlying issue, so the DEUC sent a letter to the EC urging it to open an investigation and press Nintendo to fix the defect.
"Until then, the faulty game controllers should be repaired for free and consumers should be properly informed about the limited lifespan of this product," said the consumer group.
The BEUC claims that Nintendo benefits from its negligence due to the "lock-in effect." Since third-party options are somewhat limited, consumers are locked into Nintendo's ecosystem, leaving them the choice of either buying another faulty product or waiting several weeks for a free repair.
It is worth mentioning that contrary to the BEUC's claim, there are plenty of alternatives to Nintendo's controllers. For example, the Jalvde Wireless Joy Pad, which sells for $39, is a reliable replacement for those who like the detachable Joy-Cons, while the Esywen Wireless Controller is a decent Switch Pro Controller knock-off that retails for $23.
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