Nintendo’s Switch has captivated consumers around the world with its unique hybrid-style gameplay that allows players both a handheld and traditional TV console experience. However, one issue that has repeatedly come up over the years is the system’s notoriously glitchy Joy-Con controllers.
The problem has become so noticeable and pervasive that some branches of the Japanese company, such as Nintendo of America, have agreed to extend warranties and repair malfunctioning Joy-Cons free of charge.
But that is not a universal policy, and prosecutors in one country are looking to levy a hefty lawsuit against Nintendo over issues with Joy-Cons.
According to the French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir, 65% of Joy-Con consumers noticed major hardware breakdown less than a year after purchasing the controllers.
Their same report concluded that 25% percent of consumers even saw the failure occurring within six months of purchase, even when playing less than five hours a week.
French experts said they have found two possible causes for the problem, one being “premature wear of the printed circuit boards” and another being “an opening that allows a destructive amount of debris and dust within the controller’s joysticks and buttons”.
The reports takes things a step further, alleging that “the company continues to sell Joy-Cons that are destined to fail before the end of the first year of use, with full knowledge of these facts”. And that “Nintendo indulges in practices of planned obsolescence”.
‘Planned obsolescence’ is an underhanded business strategy to purposely design products to break down to the point of needing to be replaced after limited usage, ostensibly in order to increase sales.
If successful, this lawsuit could have broader implications for Nintendo. The company already lost a similar case in the UK where a gamer took them to court over refusing to refund his malfunctioning Joy-Cons.
There is also a case in the a Seattle district court in the US (Diaz v. Nintendo of America, Inc.) that has currently reached the arbitration phase. Nintendo’s requests to dismiss the case were rejected by the court, so a settlement is expected.
For his part, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa has apologized over issues related to the Joy-Cons. However, as the years go by it’s looking more and more like an apology won’t be enough to satisfy most customers.