As Switch OLED launches, Nintendo talks improved Joy-Con thumbsticks

Today is a big day for Nintendo and its fans for more reasons than one. Not only is today release day for Metroid Dread – the first new 2D Metroid game in nearly 20 years – but it's also release day for the Switch OLED. With a new Switch on store shelves today, some are worried about thumbstick drift, a problem reported in Switch Joy-Cons from early on in the console's lifespan. Nintendo suggests that thumbstick construction has been improved just in time for the Switch OLED launch.

The company did that in a new interview with general manager of technology development Ko Shiota and deputy general manager of technology development Toru Yamashita published to its website. In that interview, neither Shiota nor Yamashita reference thumbstick drift in Joy-Con controllers directly, but it's pretty clear what they're talking about without any such callouts.

While the Joy-Con did not undergo a dramatic redesign for the Switch OLED, Yamashita notes that Nintendo has been making continuous improvements to the analog sticks specifically since the launch of the original Switch. These improvements are present in the Switch OLED's Joy-Cons, with Yamashita also suggesting that Nintendo examined defective Joy-Cons sent to it to figure out how to improve the thumbsticks. In addition, the company improved Joy-Con reliability testing as well, which hopefully means fewer defective Joy-Cons leaving the factory in the first place.

The two also temper those statements by noting that there will always be some degree of wear and tear on the Joy-Con thumbsticks, with Shiota comparing them to car tires. "Yes, for example, car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to rotate," Shiota said. "So with that same premise, we asked ourselves how we can improve durability, and not only that, but how can both operability and durability coexist? It's something we are continuously tackling."

In the end, while there's no guarantee that stick drift has been wholly quashed, it's something that Nintendo has been looking to solve. However, Yamashita did confirm that the thumbsticks in the Switch OLED Joy-Cons are "the latest version with all of the improvements," so it sounds like if you're looking for the thumbsticks that are most resistant to drift, you'll find them there. The Switch OLED is available today with an MSRP of $349.99.