Joy-Con drift leads to class-action lawsuit against Nintendo

Last Friday, the law firm Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith filed a class-action lawsuit against Nintendo of America for claims related to a malfunction in Joy-Con controllers known as Joy-Con “drift.” The lawsuit follows a preliminary investigation opened by the firm on July 18 in which it solicited complaints online related to Joy-Con controllers. Andrew Ferich, associate attorney at CSK&D, told Polygon that the firm was contacted by “over 5,500 consumers” within 24 hours with concerns over the quality of the product. As a result of that, and its prior research, the firm decided to open a case.

This lawsuit comes as the most recent development in the case of Joy-Con drift, allegedly a hardware defect in which the controllers’ analog sticks register movement without being touched. Drifting can make it so that while playing games like Super Mario Odyssey, Mario will start walking in a direction without the user pushing the left analog stick.

Nintendo Switch owners have complained about “drift” for a while, leading to a subcommunity of drift-suffering Switch owners. Entire websites now dedicate themselves to DIY fixes on the issue. However, recently published articles on Kotaku and Polygon coupled with conversations on websites like Reddit and Twitter, have breathed new life into the issue. It’s now at a point where the problem is too large to ignore.

The noise from the Joy-Con dispute was big enough for the lawyers at Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith to notice.

“We really read a lot of newspapers and online periodicals and consumer websites, we keep our ear to the ground,” Ferich said. “We’ve been following this issue and we know that gamers that own the Switch console are very frustrated by this issue.”

According to Ferich, conversations online caught their attention, but they didn’t know the full scope of problem until they opened the investigation.

“We first saw that this is an issue that’s been really bothering some people, but then we realized that it was a much bigger issue. To date, we’ve been contacted by 5,500 consumers, and that’s in the last 24 hours, so we think that it’s a really big issue.”

When asked what a win for the lawsuit would look like, Ferich told Polygon that it’s “really hard to say. In other cases we’ve had refunds; we’ve had credits, gift cards, you name it. In this specific case, we just filed this, this is too early on to give a sense of what a win would look like.”

But he did tell Polygon that him and his team “are going to pursue this litigation aggressively and try the get the best outcome for consumers.”

Polygon reached out to Nintendo for comment on Joy-Con drift issues and the associated lawsuit. The company offered the following comment on Joy-Con drift:

At Nintendo, we take great pride in creating quality products and we are continuously making improvements to them. We are aware of recent reports that some Joy-Con controllers are not responding correctly. We want our consumers to have fun with Nintendo Switch, and if anything falls short of this goal we always encourage them to visit so we can help.

Regarding the lawsuit, Nintendo said, “We have nothing to announce on this topic.”

Affected customers can file a complaint with Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith by visiting their website.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of consumers that contacted the law firm. The previous version stated that more than 55,000 people contacted the law firm. The correct number of consumers that contacted the law firm was more than 5,500. We’ve edited the article to reflect this.

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