Joy-Con drift has been the curse of all Switch owners at some point. Everyone who will have played the console for long enough will have encountered the annoyance of joysticks on these $80 controllers not working correctly. If you’re a Switch owner, you’re probably well-acquainted with Joy-Con drift, where the controller has ghost inputs, or your inputs get read improperly. It’s a thing that happens to all of us at some point, and it has been an issue since launch.
So why is Joy-Con drift such a common issue? It’s simple, it’s because of a core design flaw with Joy-Cons—and many other controllers. The joystick on the first-party controller is based on a carbon film design. The electrical circuit built into the joystick relies on the bottom end of the stick moving across a carbon-treated surface. And as with all things, wear happens—with that wear comes less contact between the stick and the carbon surface.
Users affected initially expected Nintendo to bring out changes with the OLED to address the problem, but that never occurred, and Joy-Con drift continued. Nintendo said that they made improvements on the OLED revision designed to reduce drift, but couldn’t eliminate it entirely.
The issue got so bad that lawsuits got talked about being brought against Nintendo. Nintendo’s response to the issue was to offer free replacements for users of new controllers. Nintendo repairs this issue for free if under warranty, but the cost of repair for an out-of-warranty Joy-Con could be over 40 United States dollars according to many reports on the topic. But still, the design flaw led to a mountain of broken controllers clogging up landfills all over the globe. And with the overall trend towards environmental responsibility, there are a bunch of issues here.
And with a new third-party product, there’s finally a total solution. Gulikit makes various items and kits to replace sticks for Steam Deck and other consoles, and now they have a Switch kit as well. Unlike your standard Joy-Cons from Nintendo, Gulikit’s joystick replacements use something called Hall effect sensors—which means these use a new design that’s much more resistant to drift issues. Gulikit’s joystick replacements also are more power efficient per movement, meaning your Joy-Cons can potentially last a bit longer on a single charge. The contactless mechanism that drives the stick is also more dust resistant. And when the $30 price is compared to the $80 price of a new Joy-Con set, you can easily swing the purchase if you’re on a budget.
There are some downsides though, as users on Amazon have reported. Some negative reviews cite clearance issues compared to the original joysticks, leaving a gap between the ring of the controller and the stick. Another issue that’s being brought up is the fact that using this kit will void your warranty for future repairs. This makes sense as Nintendo won’t support third-party options like this.