French Consumer Organization Sues Nintendo Over “Joy-Con Drift”

A non-profit consumer protection organization in France has filed suit against Nintendo, claiming anti-consumer practices and planned obsolescence regarding the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers.

UFC-Que Choisir put out a press release yesterday announcing that they were filing suit against Nintendo over what they claim is a design flaw with Joy-Con controllers. The organization informed Nintendo back in November of last year that there was a problem and Nintendo agreed at the time to repair Joy-Cons experiencing technical difficulties. But Que Choisir claims that Joy-Cons are still suffering from printed circuits which exhibit premature wear and casings which seem to be poorly sealed against intrusions of dust, dirt, and liquids.

These flaws allegedly are to blame for observed instances of “Joy-Con drift,” situations where unexpected movement inputs seem to occur, as well as inability to navigate menus or characters which constantly move when they shouldn’t be.

At this time, Nintendo still has an open offer to repair any Joy-Cons experiencing the drift issue free of charge. However, a class action lawsuit filed in the US over the same issue back in September 2019 was referred to arbitration in March 2020. Nintendo had originally moved to dismiss that suit, but the judge rejected the motion and ordered the case to go to arbitration in accordance with Nintendo’s EULA.

Food For Thought

Since there is currently a case going on in the US, it seems entirely likely that the suit in France is likely to proceed, though whether the judge there takes note of the outcome in the US case is unknown. The complaint of “planned obsolescence” is perhaps the one weakness which may hinder the French suit. Mass production inherently creates a need for planned obsolescence, otherwise leading to a glut of product which never gets utilized because the consumer base’s needs are satisfied with existing product. Smart businesses learn to strike a balance between designed lifetimes for products and perceived utility, and it seems Nintendo may have tipped the balance too far in the wrong direction.

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