April 27th 2019
3 min read

Introduction

I've been playing a bit of Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch lately. I've always found it fairly difficult to stand completely still in game, though it never really caused any real problems. It's difficult to hide/peek or to snipe someone from the edge of a cliff without falling off, but that's about it. I recently discovered that this isn't an issue with the game but rather with my Switch.

"Joycon Drift"

I did what I usually do when something doesn't seem right - I Googled it. A lot of the results sent me to Reddit, where I found several similar complaints. It turns out, however, that there was a bug in the game (patched a long time ago) that would cause characters to keep running. While this doesn't help with my problem, it sure muddied the search result pool. I tried all of the suggestions (different sensitivity settings, disable auto-run, etc), but nothing changed.

I ended up writing a post myself, and all 5 of the people that responded were sure my JoyCon was likely dirty or broken.

Switch Issue Confirmation

In the JoyCon settings from the Switch home screen, I was presented with an option to "Calibrate Controllers". While the calibration wasn't the issue, there was an extraordinarily helpful display that proved what everybody was saying.


As you can see, the controller wasn't resetting back to center on release. Perfect - that could definitely cause me to creep forward in the game.

Solutions

Underneath the joystick, you can see a little rubber skirt.

There were several recommendations to clean just under it using isopropyl alcohol and a Q-Tip. I figured it wouldn't hurt, though I wasn't sure if it would help. My problem wasn't that the stick was noticeably stuck - my problem felt deeper.

Another option I found online was to use some sort of lubricant. I had a bottle of silicon lubricant left-over from my old foosball table, and I figured looking into that might be worthwhile. After confirming that "polydimethylsiloxane" wouldn't harm the controller at all (non-corrosive, non-conductive), I gave it a try. Do not use WD-40. It breaks down plastics.

And whaddaya know - it worked! Testing with the calibration page again, it's perfect.

Conclusion

If you're suffering from "JoyCon Drift", don't worry. Do not go buy a new JoyCon. Do not replace the joystick in your current JoyCon. Your problem's not in the game settings. Just clean it out and lube it up, and you'll be back to sniping fools in no time.