The Nintendo Switch has been difficult to find in stock as of late, but it’s not the only key Nintendo product you might have trouble buying right now. Joy-Cons, the system’s standard controllers, are seemingly sold out everywhere, at least in the US–and that’s a real problem if you’re one of the many Switch owners dealing with drifting issues.
The video game industry has seen incredible sales in the first half of the year, as the coronavirus drove people indoors and in need of ways to pass the time. The NPD Group reported that video game industry sales in the US during April were up a whopping 73% compared to the same period last year, which is all the more remarkable when considering that a new generation of consoles will soon be here. Switch has been a particularly hot item, with NPD saying its year-to-date hardware sales through April are the highest for any console ever.
Accessory sales were also way up: The April record for controllers was almost doubled, with PS4’s DualShock 4 and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller leading the way. But whereas you can pick up a PS4 or Xbox One controller with little issue, the same can’t be said for Switch Joy-Cons. Head to the online retailer of your choice, and you’ll find one of two things: a “sold out” notice or exorbitant prices from third-party resellers. It mirrors the same thing we’ve seen with Switch itself, as we’ve been tracking for the past few months.
The inability to buy Joy-Cons is more of an issue than you might think. Those who are intent on playing multiplayer can opt for a Pro Controller (if they can find that in stock, which has also proven tricky) or other traditional, third-party controllers. But Joy-Cons are outright required for a game like 1-2-Switch. More importantly, they’re also the means through which you play the system in handheld mode.
Despite being crucial to the hybrid nature of the system, Joy-Cons have a long history of developing drift issues. This is a problem where the analog stick begins to signal input to the system when it should be in a neutral position–a real hassle in almost any type of game, but particularly terrifying when you’re in a menu trying to select the “please don’t leave” dialogue option with one of your Animal Crossing villagers. Many times now, I’ve watched my wife’s character wander into the back of her house without a finger on the controller.
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Drifting remains an ever-present issue, but Nintendo committed to fixing Joy-Cons last year. The problem is, Nintendo’s service centers understandably were shut down this spring due to COVID-19. Some of those have begun to re-open as of May 19, but as they still had pending orders to deal with–alongside what’s sure to be a new wave of requests–it’s unclear how long sending a Joy-Con in for repairs right now will take.
Nintendo product shortages are nothing new–you don’t need to look back very far to find examples like Amiibo figures and Ring Fit Adventure. In this case, the lack of Joy-Cons may stem directly from COVID-19. Back in February, Nintendo warned that production and delivery of products, including the Switch and Joy-Cons, could be impacted in Japan. However, analysts like Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad suggested at the time that this could ultimately affect other markets, including the US. That certainly appears to be the case.
We’ve reached out to Nintendo of America for comment and will report back with anything it shares. In the meantime, go easy on those Joy-Cons.
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