A new joystick design patent may finally solve the Joy-Con drift problem. The patent includes several drawings and an abstract description revealing a modified Joy-Con joystick mechanism design, which could mean the end of the controller issues that Switch players have suffered from for years.
Joy-Con drift is an ongoing hardware issue that has plagued Nintendo’s Switch console since its launch six years ago. Joy-Con drift occurs when the analog stick is moved without player input, resulting in phantom input. These occur when the thumbstick detects movement, even if the player is not holding the controller. A buildup of dust under the joystick, likely caused by abrasive action between components, is considered the most likely culprit, although simple wear and tear on the contacts has also been blamed. A UK consumer group pointed to a design flaw as the reason. To be clear, Joy-Con controllers aren’t the only game controllers with this issue, although it seems to be more prevalent with Joy-Cons.
The patent, published on March 30 and originally filed in September 2021, suggests that the new joystick may be in an advanced stage of development. Called a “directional input device and controller” in the patent filing, the device consists of two sliding parts and a portion of a curved sliding surface, among various other components. There is also a base and an input section (the stick itself). The sliding mechanism is designed to reduce friction between components, thereby reducing friction that can cause Joy-Con joysticks to drift.
Nintendo has worked hard to alleviate this problem for Switch owners, offering free repairs even after the warranty expires. Nintendo has been the subject of multiple lawsuits over the Joy-Con drift issue, one of which was dismissed in February. Nearly half of Switch owners have reportedly experienced Joy-Con drift, and some have experienced issues with multiple controller sets.
Note that there is no word on this possible Joy-Con revision, though the publication of the patent may bring good news for frustrated Switch gamers who have experienced Joy-Con drift. While a controller drift solution does arrive, it’s late in the Switch’s lifecycle; the wildly popular hybrid console just celebrated its sixth birthday a few weeks ago. Of course, there’s another interesting guess that one might draw from this patent. That’s the possibility that the patent isn’t really for the Switch controller, but its successor. This suggests that the next generation of Nintendo consoles will likely retain much of the same basic design — a Switch 2.0 of sorts. Rumors about a “Switch 2” have been running rampant lately, but ultimately only time will tell if and when this new joystick design finally surfaces.