'It's something we constantly struggle with.'
One of the permanent flaws of the Nintendo Switch was Joy-Con shifting, a phenomenon where players observe incorrect inputs even when not touching the joysticks on the controllers. Nintendo has been relatively quiet about this for years, and the company has declined to say whether the new OLED-equipped Nintendo Switch OLED fixes the problem. Today, however, the company is largely breaking its silence – and suggesting that the Joy-Con slippage may never be fully addressed.
In a new Q&A on the development of the Nintendo Switch OLED, the company reveals that it is constantly making improvements to the Joy-Cons to make them more reliable. The joysticks that come with the 2019 Switch Lite are not the same as those on the original 2017 Switch and are constantly being improved.
But basically, the Joy-Con will always wear out over time, says Ko Shiota, a Nintendo executive who also serves as the GM of Nintendo's Technology Development Division.
Do you mean basically wear is inevitable as long as the parts are in physical contact?
shiota: Yes, for example car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to turn. With the same premise, we asked ourselves how we could improve resilience, and not only that, but how can both operability and resilience coexist? It's something we deal with all the time.
The joysticks included in the OLED model are “the latest version with all the improvements,” the company says, as do the joysticks that come with the Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, Joy-Con controllers, and Pro Controllers. “Analog stick parts have been continuously improved since launch and we are still working on improvements,” says Toru Yamashita, vice president, general manager. When you get your Joy-Cons repaired, Yamashita says they will use the latest versions of these sticks for repairs.
The OLED Switch will launch on Friday, and we'll have to wait and see if these improvements make the Joy-Cons more slip-resistant over time. But it seems that Nintendo never expected to completely solve the Joy-Con slippage.
The entire interview is long, but it's worth reading the whole thing as it's the rare opportunity to hear directly how Nintendo is developing the hardware.