An internal document circulating within Nintendo and seen by Vice Waypoint reveals that customer service drones have been instructed to repair Joy-Cons experiencing the drift issue for free. But the company still won’t take responsibility for the defective devices that have enraged loyal gamers.
The news is the latest development in what has been a heated week for the Japanese Switch console manufacturer. A class-action lawsuit has been filed in the US amid countless testimonials from affected players and extensive media coverage.
The notorious Joy-Con drift sees the onscreen input of the thumbstick err in unwanted directions regardless of actions on the player’s part. Characters move on their own, and camera angles stray, causing a variety of issues notably for skill-based and mechanically-demanding games.
According to the memo, customers won’t need to provide proof of purchase, nor are customer service representatives required to check the warranty status of the controller before authorizing free repairs. This means owners who bought a Switch as far back as launch in 2017 are eligible for free of charge repairs.
Additionally, customers can contact Nintendo to obtain refunds for previous repair work, which is understood to be around the $40 mark for most users.
Nintendo has established a new troubleshooting process requiring representatives to walk customers through running a firmware update and Joy-Con calibration. Should the problem persist, postage costs to ship the controllers are covered by Nintendo.
Crucially, the document and the company’s non-committal PR response to requests for comment make no mention of Nintendo officially taking responsibility and acknowledging that a manufacturing defect causes the so-called drift.
The stock response widely circulated to the press reads:
“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 https://support.nintendo.com so we can help.”
According to Vice Waypoint, the memo also provides equally evasive scripted answers to what Nintendo expects to be the most common questions from customers. Here’s one gem:
Customer: “We expect our hardware to perform as designed.”
Canned response: “We have nothing to announce on this topic.”
As the adage goes, “actions speak louder than words.” By refusing to acknowledge fault in the matter while also offering no-questions-asked repairs, Nintendo is implicitly conceding that a problem exists.
With all signs pointing to a systematic hardware issue, Nintendo’s slapdash solution seems shortsighted and reactionary. It raises the question of whether Nintendo would have adopted the new policy if the public outcry hadn’t been so pronounced, not to speak of the looming specter of a high-profile lawsuit.