Nintendo investigating problems with Switch’s left Joy-Con controller

Ever since the Switch launched, gamers have been reporting a specific and unusual problem with the console. Its Joy-Con controllers — the diminutive handheld devices that detach from the tablet when it’s docked and attach to its sides for handheld play can have trouble maintaining a connection to the console when undocked. The issue is particularly severe with the left controller.

Last week, a teardown video by Spawn Wave explained why the left controller has so many problems. The right Joy-Con controller has an antenna running along the inside edge. The left controller has an antenna worked into the circuit board, it sits against your left hand when you use the device, and the antenna itself sits next to a piece of metal that holds the circuitry for the Joy-Con’s analog stick. Put it all together, and that’s a recipe for exceptionally weak performance.

These problems don’t exist in handheld mode when the Joy-Con is physically attached to the Switch, and they obviously don’t affect the Pro controller, but they’re probably the reason Nintendo recommends not using the switch near aquaria.

In a recent interview with Time, Reggie Fils-Aime said:

Specifically on Joy-Con syncing, all I can tell you is that we are aware of and have seen some of the reports. We’re asking consumers a lot of questions. That’s why we want to get consumers on our help line, so we can get as much information to understand the situation as possible. And so we are in a fact-finding mode, to really understand the situation and the scenarios. And with that information, we’ll look and see what the next steps are.

Separately, the company told reporters that the number of Joy-Con replacement or repair requests it has received is “not significant” and in-line with what they’ve seen with any type of hardware launch.

These types of denials are difficult to parse because they rely on two confounding variables. First, it’s entirely possible that plenty of Switch players are simply dealing with the Joy-Con issue by sitting closer to the tablet, using a Pro controller, or playing in handheld mode. A wonky Joy-Con controller may be annoying, but are you going to return the entire Switch or give up playing an amazing new game just because you’re having problems with a Joy-Con? Probably not. Not unless the problem is so bad that it renders the console useless.

The second problem is that owners may be aware of and unhappy about the issue, but holding out hope that Nintendo can fix it via software patch. Microsoft repeatedly released statements saying that return rates on the Xbox 360 were within normal ranges, right up to the point where it had to admit that it was being crushed with returns and repeated failures.

Fils-Aime goes on to make a similar point about how consumers should be talking to Nintendo to tell them if Switches are being scratched by their console docks. This is beyond absurd. It’s not your customers’ job to tell you if your hardware is built to a common-sense specification. We aren’t talking about dropping anvils on the thing, or playing underwater, or running it over with a car. Somewhere in the bowels of Nintendo, some hapless group of interns (or, seeing as this is Japan, several self-aware robots with lethal martial arts skills) should’ve been in charge of plugging the Switch into its dock 10,000 times or so, just to see how that affected wear and tear on the system.

I’m not claiming that the Switch needs a recall or anything of the sort — but both of these issues are issues that should’ve been caught and corrected before the hardware shipped.

 

Source: ExtremeTech

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