A YouTube tech channel run by the folks behind iFixit has published a teardown video that explains the joystick drift issues plaguing Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo controllers.
To summarize what’s happening, the drift happens when the sticks’ potentiometer wears out from use. According to the stick manufacturer ALPS, the component’s potentiometer lifespan averages 2,000,000 cycles. iFixit estimated that this translates to just over 400 hours of playing Call of Duty: Warzone. However, this number varies from game to game.
Although the video below revolves around the DualSense due to the recent lawsuit, iFixit noted that the same issue plagues all three controllers. The channel further demonstrated that the issues are both “predictable” and “preventable,” which might not be good news for either of the aforementioned companies should this video be used as evidence in court. What’s more is that iFixit argues that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have “made it difficult to repair this consumable component” even though ALPS explicitly mentions the joysticks’ life expectancy in its product sheet.
“It’s bizarre to us that the console makers, who spend countless thousands of hours obsessing over their controller designs, don’t just concede that joysticks are consumable parts, and design them as such to be more easily replaced,” said iFixit. “No device, rated for 2,000,000 cycles, especially a vessel of frustration or obsession, can maintain perfect performance forever. They should be designed with that reality in mind.”
The lawsuits are still pending resolution. Microsoft has asked to settle its case outside of court.