Nintendo hit with formal investigation from EU due to Joy-Con drift

We may now be one month into 2021, the fifth-year of the Nintendo Switch’s life, but that doesn’t mean the situation surrounding the infamous Joy-Con drift has subsided. On contrary, as the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) has formally called for a proper investigation into Nintendo due to receiving 25,000 complaints surrounding Joy-Con drift.

As Eurogamer reports, the aforementioned 25,000 complaints stem from Nintendo Switch owners across a swath of European countries, including Greece, Portugal, France, Norway, Italy, Slovakia, and Slovenia. After receiving such a wide array of different complaints from consumers, the BEUC has now filed its own complaint to the European Commission and “national consumer protection authorities around Europe”, says Eurogamer. As the boss of the BEUC, Monique Goyens,  puts it, this matter is being classified as “premature obsolesce and misleading omissions of key consumer information on the basis of the EU’s Unfair Commerical Practices Directive.”

According to the cases submitted to the BEUC, about 88% of these come from Nintendo Switch owners who have encountered issues with the Joy-Con’s analog sticks within the first two years of use. Due to such serious issues forming within a relatively short space of time, Goyens criticizes Nintendo saying:

“Consumers assume the products they buy to last an appropriate amount of time according to justified expectations, not have to pay for expensive replacements due to technical defect.” 

A drifting response

When widespread cases of Joy-Con drift began being reported a while back, Nintendo of America quietly began offering free repairs. The same courtesy never seemed to be implemented in countries in the EU, however. This is likely what Goyens is referring to.

As of January 28, 2021, the European Commission has formally acknowledged the calls from the European Consumer Organization (BEUC). As a result, the European Commission has now taken control of the matter and, as reported by Eurogamer, will “potentially coordinate action against Nintendo in line with Consumer protection cooperation (CPC) regulation”.

A statement from an EC spokesperson to Eurogamer echoes that of the aforementioned statement from Goyens, saving that “early obsolescence is a growing concern for all consumers.” In that same statement, the EC spokesperson has confirmed that the Commission is “determined” to take on “such trends” on the behalf of consumers and is actively preparing a “new legislative initiative” that will cause companies to be more transparent about the “sustainability, including durability” of their products.

Nintendo, who has not yet commented on this specific matter, as a whole has been very wishy-washy with its approach to Joy-Con drift. Back in June 2020, during an Investor’s Briefing, Nintendo president Furukawa did offer an apology for the issue, though he didn’t comment any further due to a class-action lawsuit that was on-going at the time in the United States. Since then, the only other statement about Joy-Con drift from a Nintendo executive has come from Nintendo of America’s president, Doug Bowser. During an interview in December 2020, Bowser admitted that there is an “opportunity for improvement” when it comes to the hardware design of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con. Even so, his verbiage was noticeably vague and he did not provide a definitive confirmation that the Joy-Con would be redesigned.

Despite these somber admittances of error from the two most prominent executives at Nintendo, the company had a defensive response to the issue of Joy-Con drift during proceedings related to the aforementioned class-action lawsuit. In that statement, which surfaced in October 2020, Nintendo tried to argue that Joy-Con drift “isn’t a real problem”. 

Analog-sticky situation

Between this new case involving the European Commission, the class-action lawsuit in the United States, and various other legal battles mounted against Nintendo over Joy-Con drift, the company continues to face a lot of flack due to its handling of the problem.

Nintendo is certainly not the first hardware company to be raked over the coals for hardware defects; some may call to mind the massive amount of fallout from the infamous “Red Ring of Death” issue that plagued early Xbox 360 units back in the mid-2000s. Though Microsoft took a hit, that system still managed to come out successful in the end. The Nintendo Switch is in a similar (if not a better) situation; it’s reputation, along with that of Nintendo, is taking a bit of a hit, but the console’s sales refuse to slow down.

If Nintendo intends to keep the Switch active for a significantly long time, as it has mentioned various times already, then a redesign of the system’s analog sticks should, hopefully, come about. Yet, as the years pile on, it does make you wonder if and when this will happen.

For now, however, if you want to fix your Joy-Con in the most economical way possible, there are various tutorials on YouTube which demonstrate how to replace the analog sticks in a handful of minutes. While it’s not the easiest of operations, it’s certainly within the realm of achievability for the average person if you’re willing to dedicate some time, patience and caution.

Here is one of the most popular of such tutorials from Youtuber “Spawn Wave”: