Update (March 1, 2022 - 9:18 PM ET) - A designer at Valve has addressed the Steam Deck drift issue, noting that it was due to a recent change to the firmware. A new firmware update is now available and should fix the problem.
"Hi all, a quick note about Steam Deck thumbsticks," read a tweet from Valve UX Designer Lawrence Yang (via @Wario64). "The team has looked into the reported issues and it turns out it was a deadzone regression from a recent firmware update. We just shipped a fix to address the bug, so make sure you’re up to date."
Our original story continues below.
It seems that Valve's new handheld gaming PC might not be free of a problem plaguing analog sticks for years: Steam Deck drift has been reported by several early owners.
The Steam Deck is a new handheld gaming from PC created by Valve, the same company that created a little gaming storefront called Steam that you might have heard of. First announced last summer, the first wave of pre-orders quickly sold out (to the surprise of no one) and Valve recently announced a free game set in the Portal universe that launched today for the handheld and PC.
Unfortunately, it seems that some Steam Deck units are suffering from a problem that has been haunting games for years (especially Nintendo Switch owners) -- several early customers are reporting issues with stick drift on their brand-new Steam Decks.
The Steam Deck Drift Problem, Explained - And How to Fix It
As highlighted on ResetEra, several customers are reporting issues with Steam Deck drift on the subreddit for the handheld gaming PC. Fortunately, there are several options available to fix the problem.
"Stick Drift" is a problem where a joystick will continue moving input in a direction despite the player not touching the stick. While it has been an issue with modern analog sticks on all three major consoles (and many third-party game controllers), the Nintendo Switch's Joy-Con controllers have become synonymous with the issue due to frequent reports (and the occasional lawsuit) from players.
Several submissions to the /r/SteamDeck subreddit (first, second, third) feature videos showing customers having issues with Steam Deck drift. In all three cases, the right analog stick's input continues moving after an initial bump by the owner.
Fortunately, there are several fixes available. First and foremost, the Steam Deck's settings offer a deadzone calibration tool that might be able to squash the problem with software. If that fails, customers will be able to order replacement parts from iFixit in the near future. Alternatively, frustrated owners can request a replacement from Valve.
It's unclear just how severe the issue with Steam Deck drift actually is -- for now, we only have a handful of reports from some early customers. Let's hope that the upcoming Steam Deck Dock won't have any problems, either.