Serious Drift: Using Nintendo’s Joy-Con Repair Service

I got my hands on my Nintendo Switch console about one month after launch (Launch Date: March 3, 2022). I’ve shared this story before, but I had my buddy visit his local Best Buy (one minute from his house) pretty much every day until he found me one — I gave him the money for it. He picked up the Gray Joy-Con model, and I’m still using that same Switch five years later.

Due to the multiple iterations on the Nintendo Switch (extra battery life Switch, Switch Lite, Switch OLED), I thought I should clarify that I never upgraded to any of these models. Although I kind of want that Switch OLED.

My Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Collection

At some point I knew I would need to purchase an extra set of Joy-Con, plus I wanted to add some color to my Switch. I originally requested the Gray Joy-Con Launch Nintendo Switch because I thought the Neon Red/Neon Blue would be too flashy. So, of course when I picked up my second set of Joy-Con I had to choose the Splatoon 2 Pink and Green. They also match my Splatoon 2 Pro Controller.

My Nintendo Switch Spaltoon 2 Pro Controller

After purchasing my Splatoon 2 Joy-Con set, I rarely used my original Gray Joy-Con. A few months ago, I began experiencing light drift and problems with my newer Joy-Con set, but nothing too serious. 

I always thought that Joy-Con drift was just a minor problem that would show up from time to time, but ultimately go unnoticed. I didn’t think Joy-Con Drift was a myth, I just believed that most people were experiencing the minor problems I had experienced instead of something much worse.

When Problems Arise

During the week of February 20, 2022, I decided to try out my original Gray Joy-Con for the first time in over a year. That’s when I truly learned just how bad the drift can get. This original set of Joy-Con had a mind of their own.

Bastion (Nintendo Switch) • Joy-Con Drift

This example is not as prominent as the others below. However, in Bastion the drift would pull me upwards and force me to fall off the map unnecessarily. In this game it wasn’t as big of a problem because you are usually on the move in Bastion. The main problems come when you are trying to stay still in a game.

Bastion • Supergiant Games
The Binding of Isaac (Nintendo Switch) • Joy-Con Drift

The drift was a bit worse in The Binding of Isaac, forcibly moving Isaac upwards until he hit the top wall of the room. In another instance, I had left Isaac standing on his own in the middle of an empty room. He ended up moving up into the next room and dying since I wasn’t paying attention.

The Binding of Isaac • Nicalis
Picross S6 (Nintendo Switch) • Joy-Con Drift

This game was unplayable with Joy-Con Drift. In Picross games one must work quick to uncover the right tiles to reveal an image. I clicked on the wrong tile so many times due to drift pulling me away from the tile I wanted. At times the drift would take over and infinitely move up through a row of tiles.

Picross S6 • Jupiter

From the gameplay videos above you may notice how bad my original Joy-Con set was drifting. There were certain games I had trouble playing at all. If I could have recorded the Switch Main Menu screen, you would have seen how hard it was to even select a game to play. Instead, I kept on choosing Profiles every time I would attempt to open a game.

Real Problems

My first attempt at a solution was to update my original Joy-Con set. Maybe they just hadn’t been used in so long that they were out of date and a bit confused. That did not help. They continued to drift all over every game I tried.

The main problems I had were:

  • In the main menu, I would select profiles instead of games, since the Joy-Con would drift upward.
  • In games, my character would drift north or south, sometimes to the point of death.
  • Use of the thumb stick would sometimes interrupt the drift.
  • Use of the D-pad buttons would cause even more drift.

At this point, it was time to send this original Joy-Con set to be repaired. I had heard it was a FREE service offered by Nintendo, so why not. It’s either keep these unusable Joy-Con around to collect dust, or see if they could really be fixed.

The Process

The first thing I did was google “Nintendo Joy-Con Repair” and the website came right up. If you have problems with Joy-Con drift, large or small, I suggest you check out this site. On the site I had to answer a few questions — my general info and address. Not too much information, just enough to be able to send in your busted Joy-Con set and make sure they come back to you.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Repair Site

Before sending out my Joy-Con set I recorded their serial numbers. I wanted to see if I would receive the same set, or a “refurbished” pair.

*Side Quest: This reminds me, the last time we took my girlfriend’s new iPhone to the Apple Store for problems they gave her a new phone right there on the spot. We asked, “Wait, is this a refurbished iPhone or a brand new iPhone?”

The geek squad agent (if it’s still Ok to call them that) answered, “It’s not a refurbished phone,”
but then proceeded to tell us the exact definition of a refurbished product.

I wanted to check if Nintendo was running that same kind of operation. In the end, I received the same exact Joy-Con set back — according to the serial numbers. They were truly repaired and sent back. I’m sure there are cases where a pair of Joy-Con cannot be repaired, so someone gets a new or refurbished pair, but I was excited to receive my original Gray Joy-Con set.

The full process took almost two weeks. I mailed out my Joy-Con set on February 24, 2022. I was notified that they had arrived at the Nintendo Repair Facility on March 1, 2022. By March 9, 2022 they arrived on my doorstep. It took thirteen days in total to repair my Joy-Con and they have been working great since.

What’s Next?

Since my original Gray Joy-Con arrived back home I haven’t stopped using them as my primary Joy-Con. I’m actually a little nervous to try out my Splatoon 2 colored set. Perhaps the small problems that didn’t really bother me much before will be more noticeable today.

The reason I wanted to share this experience is because I think everyone should know about it. If you have a busted set of Joy-Con you should definitely send them into Nintendo to be fixed. You deserve it. I plan on plugging my other Joy-Con in and testing them to see if they too should be sent to repair.

I’m pretty sure most Nintendo Switch owners have at least two pairs of Joy-Con, possibly even more. If you only have the one pair, then I guess you’ll have to spend two weeks playing on docked mode with whatever other controller you own.

For real though, any Nintendo Switch owner who has had any problems with their Joy-Con needs to send them in to be repaired. Nintendo owes that to you. These things are expensive and shouldn’t have all of these problems. Of course, it would be great if Nintendo could just fix Joy-Con drift with a software update, but at least they have this FREE program.

And, if you’re lucky enough to own more than one pair, send all of them in — one pair at a time of course.

Here’s that link one more time for anyone who missed it.

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