Valve Reveals Fix For Steam Deck Thumbstick Drift

After officially launching on February 25th, 2022, this week we've seen the Steam Deck arriving in the hands of the first customers who ordered last summer. It didn't take long before at least one user took to Reddit to document what appeared to be "stick drift" – a topic that's been the subject of heavy discussion lately thanks to it being a frequent issue in Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons.

Just days after official public launch, one Steam Deck user took to the Steam Deck subreddit to show off an issue: stick drift. In the brief video shared by Reddit user Stijnnl, we can see the right thumbstick being used to move a cursor around the Steam Deck's screen. but when Stijnnl stops moving the thumbstick, the cursor keeps moving.

This, as you can imagine, is not good – especially with a device that the user likely has only had in their possession for a matter of hours.

Steam Deck stick drift: A timeline

Thankfully for Stijnnl (and anyone else who is worried about stick drift in the Steam Deck), it seems there's a quick fix for this issue, as Valve designer Lawrence Yang took to Twitter the same day the issue was reported to explain that the stick drift was actually a problem with Steam Deck's system software that was immediately fixed with a simple software update. This software update was also available the same day the issue was first reported.

"Hi all, a quick note about Steam Deck thumbsticks," Yang said in his tweet. "The team has looked into the reported issues and it turns out it was a deadzone regression from a recent firmware update. We just shipped a fix to address the bug, so make sure you're up to date."

Does the update truly fix Steam Deck's thumbstick drift?

Following that update, one question remains: does it actually fix Steam Deck's thumbstick drift? Speaking to The Verge, Stijnnl said that the update did fix their drifting problem, but made it difficult to perform fine movements, something they reiterated (and even showed) in a follow-up Reddit comment. Two other Reddit users told The Verge that the patched fixed their issues.

However, another Reddit user, A_C_G_0_2, reports that they're still experiencing stick drift after applying the update, but didn't provide any video proof of the issue occurring. They also say that through deadzone tweaks, they've managed to get the Steam Deck to a "perfectly playable" state even though the right stick itself still seems to be malfunctioning.

So, even though that firmware update seems to have done something to fix the issue, it also seems that it may have created more problems. Beyond that, at least one user claims to be experiencing stick drift post-update, so it's possible that there are some hardware issues that can't be sorted out by updates alone. We'll see what happens as more and more people receive their Steam Decks, because for now, too few have reported stick drift issues to determine if this a widespread issue or one that will only impact a small number of users.