Nintendo have announced there will be a slight reduction in the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons’ price in Japan, starting November 6th.
As noted on the Japanese Nintendo website, the top of the Joy-Con page (also found by clicking See More on the Joy-Con section of the Nintendo Switch accessories page) has a special notice. “From Friday, November 6, 2020, the single item price of Joy-Con (L) / (R) will be revised from ‘ 4,480 yen + tax’ to ‘3,740 yen + tax’ .” (Translation: Google Translate)
At this time writing, that would be $41.80 USD reduced to $34.89 USD (plus tax). It should be noted the above price is for individual Joy-Cons, as the Japanese Nintendo Store currently lists the price of pairs of Joy-Cons as 8228¥ JPY ($76.68 USD). The move is curious, and could indicate several factors.
The Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons have issues with drifting–which is when the joystick remains untouched, yet input is still registered. This resulted in a class action lawsuit in July 2019 in the US by Chimicles, Schwartz Kriner, & Donaldson-Smith. Reports suggest Nintendo even began repairing Joy-Cons for free mere days after the lawsuit became public knowledge.
The Nintendo Switch Lite was later added to the lawsuit, and the hardware failure causing the drift was exposed. In late December, 2019 we also reported how French consumer magazine 60 millions de consommateurs awarded Nintendo their “Golden Cactus” award (specifically the “Cactus of the Too Fragile Product”), which is given to products and services that cause the most frustration.
Belgian consumer organization Testankoop also demanded Nintendo repair all Joy-Cons for free, and honor a two year warranty. In May of thus year, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled a lawsuit against Nintendo due to the Joy-Con drift must go to arbitration.
Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa reportedly apologized “for any inconvenience caused to our customers” due to the drift, during an investor Q&A in June 2020. Since July 2019, Nintendo have been repairing Joy-cons even outside of users’ warranties. Recently a mother and son sued Nintendo for over $5 million USD over the drifting fault.
As such, this reduced cost on the Joy-Con may be Nintendo’s way of attempting to reduce the fault’s impact until a revised Joy-Con has been designed and is satisfactory. However, there is another possibility.
A leaked patent for a new Joy-Con controller led to speculation that the rumored 4K-supporting “Nintendo Switch Pro” would not support handheld mode. Some also wondered if this new Joy-Con would no longer have the drifting issue.
While the Nintendo Switch console itself has not had a reported price drop, it could be the “original” Joy-Con prices are being reduced in preparation for the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Pro. This would then make the current Nintendo Switch a cheaper entry point, and the Nintendo Switch Lite cheaper than that.
However, if such an announcement were to be made, it would be pretty late. We would typically expect the announcement to come much earlier, with a price and release date announced around September- much like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
If the Nintendo Switch Pro does exist, it could be likely to be announced in 2021, rather than undercut any Christmas and Holiday sales for the current Nintendo Switch (as consumers may prefer to “wait for the next one”).