More and more players are complaining about the Joy-Con Drift problem on the Nintendo Switch. What is it? What causes it? What can be done to deal with it? This article was written to answer these questions.

What is Joy-Con drift?

Many players have experienced the Joy-Con drift issue. Actually, a lot of players are sick of it, Kotaku noted. It’s when the console thinks that a player is touching the joystick on the Switch controller even when no one is touching it.

For example, a player plays a certain game and then, without touching the joystick that controls the game camera angle, the camera moves to a particular direction whether overhead or not. That movement is called a “drift.”

The issue, according to The Verge, tends to happen to the left joystick more than the right joystick. This is particularly annoying as the left joystick is usually used for movement in a lot of games. A faulty left joystick, then, will lead to a lot of in-game movement errors and unwanted deaths.

What causes it?

There’s no single cause for Joy-Con drift. Some users pin the blame on dirt and debris making their way into the controller, particularly the space beneath the joystick. Some Switch owners speculate that it could be a problem with the Bluetooth signal which connects the Switch console to the Joy-Cons.

A certain Switch owner with a background in electrical engineering disassembled a Switch Joy-Con and said the problem could be caused by a design flaw originating from Nintendo’s poor choice of parts.

The Switch owner found that moving the joystick causes sliders, with metal prongs, to rub along the contact pads made of graphite. The metal prongs wear the graphite out, and cause debris to fall when they rub on the pads. The debris messes with the Joy-Con’s input readings, causing the drift.

Nintendo hasn’t issued an official announcement about the causes as of time of writing, which means there’s no clear reason at the moment.

How to fix it?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to fixing Joy-Con drift. There are, however, a few things players can do to hopefully fix it.

  • First, the analog sticks have to be calibrated.
  • Second, if the Joy-Cons are still under warranty, players can send them to Nintendo for repair. If not, then proceed to the next steps.
  • Third, players can lift the rubber flap and blow compressed air to dislodge dirt and debris.
  • Fourth, users can clean the area under the rubber flap using a Q-tip or toothbroosh dampened with some isopropyl alcohol (91-99%).

If these don’t work, then maybe it’s time to let go of the Joy-Cons and buy new ones.

Nintendo Switch
The new Nintendo Switch game console is displayed at a pop-up Nintendo venue in Madison Square Park in New York City, March 3, 2017. Getty Images/Drew Angerer