The discussion of controller drift is not a new one, as this issue has occurred since the advent of analogue sticks decades ago. However, the subject has attracted increased media scrutiny in recent years due to the Nintendo Switch, and now it’s Sony’s new DualSense controller for the PlayStation 5 that’s underfire.
Recently, a legal team launched a class action lawsuit against the Japanese manufacturer due to the ongoing issues, seeking compensation for its clients. Now an in-depth video published by iFixIt explains why controller drift occurs in the first place – and the reason it’s become so concerningly common.
It’s worth noting that, while the video focuses on the DualSense, the same issues can be attributed to practically all controllers – they’re all using the same parts, after all. In the video, it’s explained that wear to the potentiometers within the analogue sticks – the hardware designed to read your inputs – is to blame.
However, it points out that the components console manufacturers are using “could easily exceed their operating life in just over 400 hours of game time”, which is concerning. It’s perhaps worth noting that we’ve used controllers like the DualShock 4 for 1,000s of hours and never had an issue, but it would seem the analogue sticks aren’t really designed to have such lifespans.
There are other issues that can occur: contaminants, like plastic dust caused by components grinding together, can cause incorrect readings – while stretching to the spring which centres the analogue stick can create an incorrect neutral point. As you can tell, controllers are complicated beasts, and any minor fault can lead to drifting.
The video concludes that, given the nature of the hardware, it’s surprising that console manufacturers don’t allow you to easily swap out and replace analogue sticks so you could get that “new controller” feeling for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, it concludes that unless you’re willing to rip your pad apart, you may have to buy a new one if you’re experiencing drift – unless, of course, you have an active warranty.