Nintendo Switch accused of ‘premature obsolescence’

27 Jan 2021

Image: © dontree/

BEUC has filed a complaint with the European Commission over ‘systematic’ faults with controllers for the Nintendo Switch console.

BEUC, a European organisation for consumer protection, has filed a complaint with the European Commission regarding Nintendo.

The consumer rights group has taken issue with what it calls “systematic problems” with the controller for the Nintendo Switch console. It said a recurring technical problem, called ‘Joy-Con Drift’, can cause game commands to be inputted without the user touching the controller.

The controller, it claims, effectively becomes unusable after a relatively short amount of time, which BEUC said amounts to “premature obsolescence”. BEUC and its member groups in several European countries said they have received nearly 25,000 complaints about the faults.

“BEUC and its members are very concerned about Nintendo continuing to sell a product that was continuously reported to Nintendo and in the media by consumers as failing prematurely,” the organisation said in its letter to the European Commission.

“The obsolescence of the product means that consumers often have to buy a new set of game controllers after a short time, also because of the unproportionate costs and the practical burdens that consumers would face when trying to exercise repairs,” it said.

The organisation is calling for a Europe-wide investigation of the issue, free repairs to be provided to consumers and improved communications with consumers over the issue. Nintendo products are sold in Europe through the company’s subsidiary based in Germany.

Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nintendo Switch has sold 68m units worldwide, but the Joy-Con Drift controller issue has been the source of many headaches for the Japanese gaming giant.

Last June, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa acknowledged the issues with the controllers and apologised for “any trouble caused to our customers”.

Earlier this month, a Canadian law firm instigated a class-action lawsuit against the company over “an important, serious and hidden defect” in how durable the controller is. A separate class-action suit has been taken in the US.

BEUC has regularly challenged the lifespan of consumer products, arguing that consumers should be given more detailed information on the durability of products before they buy and that companies should be compelled to build longer-lasting products in order to reduce waste.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin