An American Nintendo Switch hardware repair center in the United States was receiving thousands of copies each week at the height of the Joy-Con stick drift issues. The center could not handle the large amount and made many mistakes.
That tells an anonymous source who worked at the repair center on gaming news site Kotaku. It is a repair center in New York State that carried out repairs for customers ‘east of the Mississippi River’, where about half of the American population lives. That repair center is owned by a third party and carries out repair work on behalf of Nintendo.
In 2017 and 2018, Nintendo sent new copies of controllers if they showed drift. After that, the company changed its strategy and all controllers had to be repaired. So, at the height of the rush for controller repairs, thousands of copies were arriving each week. Perhaps tens of thousands can be spoken of when extrapolating to the whole of the US. For context, in February, Nintendo announced that it has shipped over 100 million Switch consoles.
Of those numbers, 90 percent had to be repaired within four days, creating a workload that was difficult for the repair center to handle. At one point, the center was given a workshop dedicated solely to Joy-Con repairs. Nintendo will not charge customers for Joy-Con drift repairs.
Although the overwhelm the repair center faced can also be explained by simply insufficient investment in the center, it nevertheless led to ‘a lot’ of errors in the repairs. Kotaku doesn’t report what mistakes were made except for a swapped console, but reports of Joy-Cons returning from a repair and still showing drift are easy to find on the internet.
Kotaku describes the ‘peak’ of the amount of repairs as if it were something in the past. That could well be, as Nintendo said last year that the controllers have improved reliability since console release and are more durable than before, but the problem still persists, “just like a car tire wears out.” In 2020, Nintendo apologized for the drift.
Stick drift occurs when an analog controller from a neutral position still continuously transmits movement to the console, which greatly hinders gameplay. iFixit published in 2019 an article explaining what the options are when a Joy-Con drifts. IFixit states that the Joy-Cons will be repaired by Nintendo if they are within the warranty period, but according to a report by Vice Nintendo doesn’t look at the warranty when drifting.