Nintendo Switch Lite Added to Joy-Con Drift Lawsuit, Drifting Cause Exposed

The Nintendo Switch Lite has been added to the ongoing class-action lawsuit against Nintendo, over the analog stick’s “drifting” issue. In addition, this lawsuit now exposes why the drifting is occurring.

In case you missed our prior reports, the original Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons had issues with drifting- when the joystick remains untouched, yet input is still registered.

This resulted in a class action lawsuit by Chimicles, Schwartz Kriner, & Donaldson-Smith in July of this year. Reports suggest Nintendo even began repairing Joy-Cons for free mere days after the lawsuit became public knowledge.

When the new Nintendo Switch Lite was released- with integrated Joy-Cons- many were concerned if it would have the same issues. Third party examinations showed the analog sticks were the same as the original. This has unsurprisingly lead to claims that the new console still has the same issues with drifting (1, 2, 3, 4).

Now, Polygon reports they have obtained an amended version of the lawsuit. You can read that here (via Scribd). On page 6, it notes:

“This is a class action lawsuit brought against Nintendo by Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and similarly situated consumers who purchased Nintendo Switch game systems, including the original Nintendo Switch and the new Nintendo Switch Lite; as well as the standalone Joy-Con controllers (collectively referred to herein as “Switch”).

Editor’s Note: We mean the actual sixth page. There are several pages not added on the documents own page numbers. So when the contents refer to page 1, it is actually page 6, etc. We shall be referring to the actual page numbering, not the document’s page numbering.

Eighteen plaintiffs from 16 states are currently listed on the lawsuit. On page 31 and 32, the lawsuit claims the drifting issue persisted with the Nintendo Switch Lite.

“Unfortunately for consumers, Nintendo did not resolve the joystick and drifting issues prior to launching its handheld Switch Lite system.

Early reports and teardowns indicate that the Switch Lite is plagued by defective control and joystick systems.

[…] This is particularly problematic for purchasers of the Switch Lite because unlike with the regular Switch, there is no ability to simply remove the Joy-Cons from the Switch Lite console-the controllers are built into the gaming system. When the Switch Lite’s joysticks fail, the whole system fails.

Nintendo knew of the joystick and control issues with the regular Switch and Joy-Cons, yet it did not resolve this issue and included the same defective hardware into the Switch Lite systems.”

Page 32 to Page 36 also begins to delve into the technical nature of why the issue occurs- specifically from Page 34.

In short, two brushes move in X and Y directions with user input. The brushes are made of coated steel and mounted in a polyethylene “carrier.” The brushes make contact with a conductive pad on a flexible circuit to transmit the input. It seems the cause of the failure comes from wear on this pad and the carrier- according to the plaintiff’s counsel and expert.

“As the steel brushes move back and forth they rub away the soft carbon material that makes up the pad.

The removed material changes the electrical resistance of the pads and potentially leads to drifting. The difference in the surface hardness between the steel brush and the carbon pad leads to the excessive wear debris that collects on the brush tips. This transferred debris exacerbates the wear of the pad. Also, during normal motion of the joystick the soft polyethylene parts create wear debris as they articulate against one another. These particles end up on the pad and act as an abrasive, causing further wear.”

Images were also included, showing the equipment under an electron microscope- taken from plaintiffs’ joy-cons that had the issue. The images show both brush tips and flexible circuits with debris and wear.

Page 37 also issues complaints about the issue from forums, social media, and comment sections. Page 40 also cites several public complaints against the Nintendo Switch Lite- some stating the issue occurred in as little as 2 days or even 20 hours of play.

Pages 41 and 42 allege that Nintendo would have conducted tests prior to the launch of both devices, and would have had full knowledge of the issue. They also propose that with the “droves” of complaints, that Nintendo have not attempted to solve the issue (i.e. no recalls, releasing new joy-con colors and consoles without fixing the issue).

Further, the lawsuit casts doubt on Nintendo as they did not disclose the issue to consumers, offer free repairs (prior to the lawsuit), no warranty extension, and even allegations that some repairs conducted are “some sort of minor refurbishment and [Nintendo]send the Joy-Cons back to consumers still defective and susceptible to manifestation of the Drift Defect in the future.”

Pages 51 through 98 cite the claims are for 24 counts, including Breach of Express Warranty, Breach of the Implied Warranty of Merchantability, Unjust Enrichment (Pleading in the Alternative), Declaratory Relief (Pleading in the Alternative to the Contract Based Claims), and various per-state consumer law violations.

We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Chimicles, Schwartz Kriner, & Donaldson-Smith still offer this webpage for those who have been affected with the Joy-Con drift (within the United States) to submit their credentials, and detail the issues they came across. Though it is unknown if any more submissions will be accepted at this time.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!



Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.