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Nintendo may have figured out a fix for its Switch Joy-Con desync issue

UPDATE How do you solve a problem like Joy-Con desyncing? Well, just a few weeks after the Switch launched, it seems Nintendo has finally found an answer.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

March 22, 2017

3 Min Read

How do you solve a problem like Joy-Con desyncing? Well, just a few weeks after the Switch launched, it seems Nintendo has finally found an answer. 

The issue itself relates to one of the Switch's tiny Joy-Con controllers -- usually the left Joy-Con -- disconnecting from the console during wireless gameplay. Although the problem isn't universal, it's a widespread issue that's resulted in more than a few untimely deaths for Zelda players around the world. 

Despite being a relatively common occurrence, Nintendo seemed unsure whether the issue was hardware or software related, and until now had only offered a few hit-and-miss solutions: such as not using the console in the vicinity of an aquarium. 

According to CNET's Sean Hollister, however, it looks like the Japanese console maker has finally figured out a permanent fix.

After experiencing desyncing first-hand, Hollister tore down his left Joy-Con before sending it back to Nintendo for repair. Fast-forward a few days, and the bite-sized gamepad was back in his arms, but there was something strange about his old friend. It was working. 

Curious as to how Nintendo fixed the issue, Hollister performed some more invasive surgery and found that the company had inserted a small piece of conductive foam into the lower right corner of the device. Seemingly right on top of its antennae. 

The foam is generally used to shield electronics from radio-frequency interference, which is what Nintendo suspected of causing the issue in the first place. 

It's a small fix, but one that seems to have done the job. But just to make sure, Hollister tried using the Joy-Con after removing the foam, and would you know it? The issue reappeared almost instantly. 

What's more, Hollister thinks Nintendo has now fixed the issue at source, as a new Joy-Con he grabbed from Amazon (he wasn't banking on getting his own back anytime soon) worked perfectly right out of the box. 

Although his newly purchased Joy-Con is decidedly foam-free, Hollister notes that it does sport different codes on the top center of the circuit board, perhaps hinting that Nintendo has already altered its manufacturing process to nix the issue.

UPDATE: In a statement given to Kotaku, Nintendo explained that the connectivity problems were due to a manufacturing variation, rather than an issue with the design of the Joy-Cons themselves. The full statement can be found below: 

"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."

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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