Tech giant Sony has been served with a class action lawsuit concerning a vital piece of its new PlayStation 5 video game console, the DualSense controller. The suit was filed by Chimicles Shwartz Kriner & Donaldson (CSK&D) on behalf of Lmarc Turner and all other gamers in a similar situation regarding a phenomenon known as “drift.”
Drift in a video game controller is a defect wherein the console senses movement from one of the controller’s analog joy sticks without any prompt from the player. As a result, the game will act as if the player is intentionally moving the stick even while it is in a neutral position. The analog stick has been an essential gameplay tool in nearly all modern games since its introduction to the Nintendo 64 controller in 1996, and subsequent popularization throughout the industry. Game creators develop the sticks for movement of a game’s character, the camera, or both. For players experiencing drift on their controllers, it can severely hamper a game’s functionality to the point where it is unplayable. Many players have complained of drift issues within days or even hours of use with the DualSense controller. With complaints receiving little help from Sony customer support, the next best option for gamers is buying another DualSense costing $69.99 each. One potentially contentious point of the lawsuit is the declaration that Sony both knew the DualSense was defective before the PS5’s launch and chose to conceal the issue from customers. It will be seen if this allegation proves to be true.
This is not the first problem Sony has faced since the release of its latest console in November 2020. The PS5, along with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Series S, have been inundated by scalpers, leading to a lack of supplies for eager fanbases. Still, the console sold 4.5 million units through the end of 2020. As the console and the DualSense eventually makes its way into more gamers’ hands, more complaints of drift may rise as well.
Pervasiveness of drift in controllers has become a greater issue for the video games industry over the past few years. Since the release of its Switch console in 2017, Nintendo has faced similar complaints of drift in its Joy-Con controller. Multiple suits have been filed against Nintendo in the US, including one from CSK&D, the firm suing Sony. Despite Nintendo’s attempts at dismissal, several of these US suits are moving to arbitration. Worldwide, too, the problems persist, with consumer suits being filed against Nintendo in Canada and France. In January 2021, the European Bureau of Consumers’ Unions called out for Switch owners to report Joy-Con drift to decide if legal action should be taken against Nintendo. As the lawsuits pile up and consumer frustrations rise, it appears that drift, and its far-reaching consequences, will plague the industry’s top dogs through this console generation.