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Nintendo Says It’s Found the Switch Joy-Con Issue and Is Fixing It

3 minute read

Nintendo says it has discovered why certain Joy-Con controllers experience sync issues when communicating wirelessly with its Switch game console, and that it has taken steps to correct the problem.

The issue, first reported by certain press outlets and experienced firsthand by TIME, involves the left Switch Joy-Con controller intermittently losing connection with the console itself. In TIME’s case, the problem only manifested when completely obstructing the controller (we essentially had to sit on it). But in other instances, videos by Switch owners appeared to show the issue occurring during routine usage, without apparent obstruction.

In a March 9 statement to TIME, Nintendo said the number of Joy-Con replacement or repair requests was “not significant,” adding that the number was also “consistent with what we’ve seen for any new hardware we have launched.”

In a new statement to TIME, Nintendo is now saying that “there is no design issue with the Joy-Con controllers” and that there is no “widespread proactive repair or replacement effort underway.” But it acknowledges that a “manufacturing variation” is responsible for wirelessly interfering with “a small number of the left Joy-Con.” The company says the problem has been addressed in factories manufacturing the controllers, and that it will no longer be an issue. Furthermore, Nintendo says “a simple fix” solves the problem in currently afflicted controllers.

It’s not clear if that fix is, as described by CNET here, a “small black square of foam [placed] in the lower-right corner,” but the site’s photographic detective work makes it seem likely.

What the heck is a “manufacturing variation”? According to this Houston Chronicle overview, it is “a disparity between an actual measure of a product characteristic and its target value.” The difference between it and a “design issue” is that a design issue would be endemic to the population as a whole, not just a subset (based on variance in the manufacturing process).

Here is Nintendo’s statement in full:

There is no design issue with the Joy-Con controllers, and no widespread proactive repair or replacement effort is underway. A manufacturing variation has resulted in wireless interference with a small number of the left Joy-Con. Moving forward this will not be an issue, as the manufacturing variation has been addressed and corrected at the factory level.

We have determined a simple fix can be made to any affected Joy-Con to improve connectivity.

There are other reasons consumers may be experiencing wireless interference. We are asking consumers to contact our customer support team so we can help them determine if a repair is necessary. If it is, consumers can send their controller directly to Nintendo for the adjustment, free of charge, with an anticipated quick return of less than a week. Repair timing may vary by region. For help with any hardware or software questions, please visit http://support.nintendo.com.​”

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Write to Matt Peckham at matt.peckham@time.com