Ever since the Switch launched, gamers have been reporting a specific and unusual problem with the console. Its Joy-Con controllers — the diminutive handheld devices that detach from the tablet when it’s docked and attach to its sides for handheld play can have trouble maintaining a connection to the console when undocked. The issue is particularly severe with the left controller.
Last week, a teardown video by Spawn Wave explained why the left controller has so many problems. The right Joy-Con controller has an antenna running along the inside edge. The left controller has an antenna worked into the circuit board, it sits against your left hand when you use the device, and the antenna itself sits next to a piece of metal that holds the circuitry for the Joy-Con’s analog stick. Put it all together, and that’s a recipe for exceptionally weak performance.
These problems don’t exist in handheld mode when the Joy-Con is physically attached to the Switch, and they obviously don’t affect the Pro controller, but they’re probably the reason Nintendo recommends not using the switch near aquaria.
In a recent interview with Time, Reggie Fils-Aime said:
Specifically on Joy-Con syncing, all I can tell you is that we are aware of and have seen some of the reports. We’re asking consumers a lot of questions. That’s why we want to get consumers on our help line, so we can get as much information to understand the situation as possible. And so we are in a fact-finding mode, to really understand the situation and the scenarios. And with that information, we’ll look and see what the next steps are.
Separately, the company told reporters that the number of Joy-Con replacement or repair requests it has received is “not significant” and in-line with what they’ve seen with any type of hardware launch.
These types of denials are difficult to parse because they rely on two confounding variables. First, it’s entirely possible that plenty of Switch players are simply dealing with the Joy-Con issue by sitting closer to the tablet, using a Pro controller, or playing in handheld mode. A wonky Joy-Con controller may be annoying, but are you going to return the entire Switch or give up playing an amazing new game just because you’re having problems with a Joy-Con? Probably not. Not unless the problem is so bad that it renders the console useless.