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Xbox Now Facing An Even Bigger Lawsuit

Video game accessories are typically built to withstand a lot of wear and tear. This is especially true of controllers, which have to survive countless hours of analog stick movements, button presses, and trigger pulls, not to mention occasional drops.


A controller fading out after years of punishment would be pretty understandable. What's not understandable, however, is when a controller can barely stay functional for three months. That's the boat the Xbox One controller is allegedly in due to something called "stick drift." As a result, Microsoft was hit with a class-action lawsuit in April 2020.

The original suit only covered Xbox One controllers — the type bundled with the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it looks like that suit is about to get a whole lot bigger.

According to VGC, the class-action suit was amended on Oct. 2, 2020 to include both the Series 1 and Series 2 versions of Microsoft's Elite controller. If you need a refresher, these gamepads are essentially "pro" versions of the Xbox One controller, with added features like swappable analog sticks and back paddle buttons.


It is claimed that the stick drift issue — which causes analog stick movements to register without anyone actually touching the controller — is the fault of "a controller defect related to the potentiometer within the joystick component," as reported by VGC. While the Elite controllers are much more expensive than typical Xbox One controllers, it seems the analog stick construction isn't all that different between the various models, so all can develop this defect.

The original Xbox One controller debuted with the Xbox One in November 2014. The most recent version of the Xbox One Elite controller, the Series 2, was released in 2019. That the latter also seems to suffer from stick drift is disconcerting, as it means Microsoft has potentially been manufacturing flawed controllers for the better part of five years.

If you're wondering what these disgruntled gamers are after, the demands seem pretty basic. VGC reported that members of the class-action suit want "monetary relief," as well as an order that compels Microsoft to tell all of its customers about the stick drift flaw.

The warning may not be as useful now, as Microsoft prepares to launch next-gen Xbox machines with new controllers. But Xbox One controllers will reportedly work with the Xbox Series X and Series S, so perhaps those who are planning to bring older accessories forward might appreciate the heads up.


And Microsoft is not the first company to find itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit over stick drift, by the way. The Nintendo Switch has been a runaway success, but throughout the console's lifespan, Nintendo has been dogged by reports of stick drift in its Joy-Con controllers.

Nintendo tried to deal with the issue quietly last year, changing its support website to include a link for Joy-Con repairs. That didn't throw any lawyers off the scent, though, and Nintendo was eventually hit with one class-action lawsuit in 2019, and then another in 2020.

To add insult to injury, Nintendo even won an award in late 2019 related to the stick drift debacle. The Nintendo Switch was named the "Most Fragile" product of the year, party due to issues many customers had with the console's Joy-Con controllers.

As for Microsoft, it seems customers will have to hope that the company has designed the analog sticks on the Xbox Series X and Series S controllers a bit differently. No one has disassembled one yet, so whether or not the same flaw could be present is very much up in the air.

It's also unclear how this class-action suit against Microsoft will ultimately turn out. Some owners of the Xbox One controller may feel there's a compelling case to be made about a defect. If it's tough to prove, however — or if Microsoft can successfully argue that stick drift is a result of typical wear and tear — members of the suit could be dealt a huge L.


Both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S launch on Nov. 10, 2019 at $499 and $299, respectively. There are some Series X test units out in the wild now, and various gaming websites have been putting the console through its paces. It might be worth keeping an eye on those in the coming weeks, just to see if perhaps someone develops stick drift on a Series X gamepad.

In the meantime, keep checking back for more updates about how this lawsuit is progressing.