French Consumer Group Targets Nintendo Over Joy-Con Drift

Published: September 23, 2020 9:03 AM /


Someone removing or attaching a Joy-Con from or to the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift saga continues. French consumer group L'UFC Que Choisir is pursuing legal action against Nintendo, alleging planned obsolescence and inadequate response to consumer complaints.

What is L'UFC Que Choisir alleging Nintendo has done?

According to articles on its official website (for which we're using machine translation), Que Choisir says that Nintendo is fully aware of complaints lodged against it over Joy-Con drift but has done nothing to alter the design of the controller to fix this issue. It's an issue that occurs in many Joy-Con controllers whereby the analog sticks will move on their own, "drifting" so that characters move or the camera moves without player input.

In addition, Que Choisir says Nintendo sells controllers that are "expected to fail before the end of the first year of use" and does so knowing that this will happen. Simply swapping controllers for new ones or repairing faulty units is not enough, according to Que Choisir. The group is asking Nintendo to "follow a curative scenario" and change the Joy-Con's design so it doesn't drift in the first place. To accompany its action, Que Choisir created the following video (do note, it's in French):

In support of its claims of planned obsolescence, Que Choisir points to two conclusions reached by hardware analysts about the Joy-Con controllers. The causes of Joy-Con drift are likely to be as follows, according to them:

  • Premature wear and tear on the circuit boards
  • A waterproofing defect causing debris and dust to gather around the joystick

Que Choisir says that the nature of Joy-Con drift, combined with complaint frequency, low hardware lifespan, and perceived manufacturer indifference, all suggest Nintendo is engaging in planned obsolescence practices. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, it effectively means Nintendo is engineering products knowing that they'll fail beyond the point at which the warranty will cover repairs or replacements.

What is the history of Joy-Con drift?

This isn't the first instance of legal action being taken against Nintendo over Joy-Con drift. Earlier this month, a UK gamer won a lawsuit against Nintendo revolving around a defective Joy-Con for which Nintendo would not issue a refund. There are also a number of class-action lawsuits currently underway alleging similar things to Que Choisir's action; namely, that Nintendo is manufacturing and selling hardware that it knows is faulty and is doing nothing to remedy the situation.

For his part, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has apologized publicly for Joy-Con drift. Furukawa says that Nintendo is "continuing to aim to improve our products". It's worth noting, however, that since the Joy-Con is embroiled in legal battles, Furukawa refrained from commenting any further. Que Choisir says Nintendo's apology is inadequate since the French consumer group is alleging the company continues to sell faulty products knowingly. 

Indeed, Que Choisir itself says it was able to collect over 7,000 testimonials from disgruntled players in less than 10 days. Said testimonials established that Joy-Con drift appears in the first year after the Switch is purchased in 65% of the cases surveyed. 75% of users who experienced this issue did not request help from Nintendo, and 56% simply bought a new controller. It seems like Nintendo's hardware woes are far from over. We'll bring you more on this as we get it.

Quick Take

It's about time for Nintendo to acknowledge this problem. With angry consumer evidence piling up and a worrying lack of concrete response on Nintendo's part, it's really looking like the Japanese gaming giant either doesn't care about Joy-Con drift or - perhaps worse - genuinely doesn't want to acknowledge it. Burying your head in the sand can only work for so long, and if Nintendo continues not to make any changes to its Joy-Con design, things are only going to get worse.

What do you think about L'UFC Que Choisir's action? Have you experienced Joy-Con drift? Let us know in the comments below!