Nintendo faces class action lawsuit over Switch controller 'drift'

Lawyers allege that Joy-Cons are defective.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

As successful as the Nintendo Switch has been, there's been a consistent headache: Joy-Con drift. Many gamers have reported the controllers' analog sticks registering non-existent input (hence drifting), forcing players to either adapt or send the peripherals in for repairs. There may be legal pressure to do something, though. Lawyers at Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith have filed a class action lawsuit in the US against Nintendo alleging that its sells Joy-Cons knowing they're "defective." The suit also maintains that Nintendo refuses to fix the drifting for free, and hasn't even acknowledged the issue despite widespread reports.

The complaint accuses Nintendo of violating California's fraud laws as well as state- and federal-level warranty laws. It further accuses the company of misrepresentation, breaching implied warranty and "unjust enrichment." The attorneys are looking both for monetary damages as well as relief that could include forcing Nintendo to offer better coverage for the issue.

We've asked Nintendo for comment. If this succeeds as a class action, though, it could become expensive for the company. Nintendo said it had sold nearly 35 million Switches worldwide as of March 2019, and that's not including sales of stand-alone Joy-Con kits. While US sales are only part of that amount, that could still leave Nintendo compensating quite a few people for their controller drift woes. Just don't expect a windfall as a Switch owner — with some exceptions, class actions rarely offer hefty payouts for victims.