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Class-action lawsuit against 'drifting joysticks' on Xbox controllers continues with amended complaint

Xbox Series X S Controller Hero
Xbox Series X S Controller Hero (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The lawsuit against the 'drifting joysticks' issue on recent Xbox controllers is still continuing.
  • The amended complaint adds seven new plaintiffs, requests a jury trial, and adds the Xbox Elite Series 1 and 2 controllers to the list of affected accessories.
  • The ongoing lawsuit is going after Microsoft over the alleged widespread issue of joystick drifting in Xbox controllers, due to a defect in the hardware.
  • The plaintiffs are seeking monetary relief from Microsoft, as well as a public injunction that would require Microsoft to inform their customers of the issues.

A new report from VGC has come out today with some updated information regarding the class-action lawsuit against Microsoft and alleged joystick drifting issues. In the report, VGC claims that the ongoing lawsuit was amended on October 2, 2020, with seven new plaintiffs, a request for a jury trial, and an updated list of affected peripherals that now includes the Xbox Elite Controller Series 1 and Series 2.

The class-action lawsuit has been in effect for a while now, claiming that Microsoft's critically acclaimed Xbox controllers have a widespread joystick drifting issue, something that Nintendo has also come under fire for with concerns to their Joy-Con controllers for the Switch. The plaintiffs allege that a known hardware flaw with a component known as the "potentiometer," the part that translates physical movement to software movement, and a grease-like lubricant causes unwanted movement even when the user isn't actively touching the controller, which can grow worse over time.

The lawsuit is not only seeking monetary compensation from Microsoft, but is also seeking a public injuction, which would require Microsoft to openly inform their existing customer base of the issues, as the lawsuit claims that "The injunctive relief sought by Plaintiffs will protect the public from Microsoft's deceitful marketing practices which misrepresent and omit material facts."

It's still not clear if the lawsuit will succeed, or if the reported joystick drifting issues with Xbox controllers are as serious as the lawsuit alleges, but it is interesting that the case continues to evolve over time, especially as Microsoft seeks to launch their next-gen consoles like the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The new consoles also come with a brand-new refreshed controller which makes some important and distinct changes to the internals of the controller, possibly avoiding the alleged defect that affects previous controllers from Xbox.

Have you experienced joystick drifting on controllers before? Do you think this lawsuit has merit against Xbox controllers specifically? Let us know in the comments below!

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Zachary Boddy
Zachary Boddy

Zachary Boddy is the Minecraft Expert and a News Writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life, and have been freelancing for Windows Central and its sister sites since 2019, with a focus on Xbox and PC gaming. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.

36 Comments
  • I have not seen any drift on my controllers and I have three of them. Two came with the launch day Xbox One combo I got from Costco and another came with the Project Scorpio edition One X.
  • Same for me. Guess we are the fortunate ones. (??)
  • I have 2 Elites (original and series 2), a Day One 2013 controller from my original Xbox One, a Project Scorpio one from my One X, and 3 other standard controllers, and have had zero issues with any of them. I've gamed a lot on the 2 Elites, but have used them all for extended periods of time over the years. None of them have ever drifted.
  • All elite Gen 1 controllers had right stick drift on the left Thumbstick if you open up the accessories app and watch it you'll see it. It's not bad enough to notice in games though. My series 2 elite had front and back drift and that one is just horrible. I cracked it open and you can see where the cause is. It's the nylon that holds the ball of the Thumbstick into the switch it eventually wears out. Its mind boggling that the controllers are so expensive but that piece was overlooked as a potential weak point. Don't get me wrong I love my elites it's just a bit sad that these are supposed to be extreme gaming controllers that are supposed to outlast regular controllers in terms of longevity but they have this flaw in them that prevents them from doing so. I don't care about money but I'd like the problem fixed so I can enjoy my controller without having to worry about it breaking just from normal usage.
  • I have drift on one controller
  • I have purchased a new remote but I can definitely say I don't game as much as I use to and purchasing a remote to fix the issue kind of rubbed me the wrong way.
  • I have a controller with drift. It was very annoying -- I gave it to one of the kids. :) It's odd becuase it doesn't drift all the time. When you release the stick, it centers -- but after a few seconds it starts the drift. So it's not as simple as a calibration problem.
  • Neither my Xbox One Day One, Xbox One X SE, Xbox Lab Design, 2x Xbox Elite or Xbox Elite Series 2 Controllers have ever showed such an issue. Really have to wonder what the **** people are doing with their Controllers for them to break them 😐
  • Using them.
    Is that too much?
    The OG XBOX and 360 controllers never drifted. The XB1s do.
  • My Day One lasted way longer than my Elite Series 1. Considering the Elite Series 1 was heavily marketed with durability being a selling point... I was a little upset.
    Maybe rotating between six different controllers is the key.
  • How about just using them as they are intended?
  • Lol for real
  • Some folks beat the carp out of their controllers. I haven't had the drift, but Gen 1 elite did have the grips fall off.
  • While some kinda speculate that there is no drift, I have noticed a lot more degradation of the sticks position over time. This didn't happen as much as on the xbox 360 controllers but that's because I didn't use them that often. They really need to improve the quality overall on these sticks later down the line. I don't think their testing is enough since it's quite slow rather than the rapid movements constantly on a controller.
  • I am very gentle with my controllers and I have never had a problem with my Xbox One controllers or any controller with analog sticks until a few months ago. My launch day Xbox One X controller (non scorpio edition) started to develop a very slight drift in the left analog stick. I did my usual research and from what I read it was one of the sensors in the analog stick. I figure for only that to go wrong after 3 years of using it pretty much everyday wasn't that bad. Anyway, I'm not going to get a new controller just because of that because I knew that I could fix it. So I took apart a third party original Xbox controller that I had laying around forever and removed one of the analog sensors from that. I then took apart my Xbox One X controller and removed the analog sensor from that as well, compared them and they were an exact match. So I put the controller back together with the replacement sensor in place and it has worked perfectly ever since. While I was in there I also cleaned off the contact for the analog sensor with rubbing alcohol. I did notice on the sensor that was causing the problem, that it was just very slightly bent out of shape for some reason and I don't understand how that would happen when it's pretty protected inside of the assembly. So I'm guessing maybe they had a bad batch of those sensors and that's what all this drifting issue is about.
  • I keep crashing into the walls when playing Forza. Now I can blame the controller instead of my juvenile inability to control the cars.
  • I just had 4 controllers repaired that were drifting pretty bad. It made gameplay pretty much impossible. Two of them were custom controllers I got from the Xbox Design Lab. You can imagine I wasn't ready to fork over another $160 to replace them both. I still have one more that needs repair due to drifting.
  • You would think that such expensive controllers would I better quality control.
  • They used to be.
    I have a Duke that still work fine and two 360's.
    The problem's been with the newer XB1 controllers with bluetooth.
  • Yup.
    Three controllers in a row. About 18 months apart.
    Left thumbstick every time.
    I'm hoping the current one hangs on until the SX ships.
    Surely they'll have quietly fixed it for those...?
  • I have no drift issues with mine either. I'm gonna guess these "gamers" are harder on the controllers?
  • Are RPGs particularly hard on controllers?
  • I’m a 36 year old woman. I’m not a 10 year old that rages when things don’t go my way. To assume that we are using our controllers any other way than they are intended is unfair. Open your eyes.
  • I'm not seeing any drift issues on my Elite Series 1 controller (though the grips have come off as has the rubber on the left stick).
  • Yo, how dirty is your sh*..? 😅
  • At first I thought this was a pretty frivolous lawsuit considering I had way more 360 controllers fail than XB1 controllers, but maybe there is a little more to it than I first thought. My scropio edition controller failed on the left stick, thats quite annoying, but that was after a large number of hours. I wonder how true it is that a large number are failing right after the 3 month warranty ends.
  • My elite had drift issues, it also had bumper issues. My other controllers have all been button related faults, not the sticks but my housemate has had drift problems with a couple of his.
  • The bumper design is pisspoor, I have had a couple break from the smallest drop.
  • Guys, no one likes the ugly truth, but any consumer-grade analog stick will drift sooner or later.
  • I think the lawsuit is for the high failure rate of the analog sticks on controllers that are just out of warranty.
  • @Zydio that's with all console controllers though? Sure, they need to be more durable but this issue has been going back years.
  • As the lawsuit should continue I've had at least 2 or 3 controllers that did this over the years and it is very annoying. Hopefully, this makes MS look into the issue and actually fix the root cause.
  • Its wierd. My day one controller is still fine but I just bought a new version recently with the phone jack and it drifts only months after having it. It is such bullcrap. I should be able to get my money back if it's such a know issue.
  • To put this on context, this has been more of less an issue ever since joysticks on consoles controllers existed as some people are just careless with their controller pads. Personally I've seen this on playstation one controllers albeit alot longer after ps2 controllers as the PS one controllers are more durable than subsequent dual shocks. PS3 pads were terrible in durability especially the trigger bumpers. I've also seen this drift issue on the N64 controllers albeit after years of use. Same with Gamecube controllers, rarely on Wii controllers pads then again we solely used the Wii Motes and gamecube controllers. Have also seen drift issues on the xbox controllers, however never any issues with the trigger bumpers. This is nothing new. It boils down to the disposable society we live in now, electronics are often made with planned obsolence with ever more increasing less durable components. Hell, there are some who only wear clothes once and throw them away *facepalm*. The controllers do need to be made more durable as the controllers that drift but work perfectly fine are often thrown away thus adding to e-waste. There has to be balance, otherwise we are just adding to the increasing levels of microplastics for the sake corporate short term profits.
  • I have already had one elite 2 replaced by Microsoft, about 3 months ago. I am now having to send in my replacement for a replacement for the same exact issues! Drifting joystick! Please just fix the issue!
  • The older models hold but lack better motion sensitivity and begin break down my older titan fall still work fine but it has had such little use compared to the master chief controller I purchased who’s bumper snapped mid game of destiny and when I go online to see if this has happened to anyone else it did and seeing how thin the material is. I use the locke remote for the halo 5 console I purchased and noticed a drift and thought it was in my head but the more I played I realized it was the joy stick imputing commands in its own this throws off any competitive play and even at the Home Screen when trying to pick a game or app it acts up terribly I don’t have the desire to spend 60+ just to purchase a new remote for a fix that should be offered as a standard by Microsoft I don’t even want to recomend an Xbox to friends or family with such an issue. Would be much better to stick to getting a switch for party games and many well made titles Nintendo releases on top of the free fix they offer to their customers. Considering the president of Nintendo even apologized at a budget Q&A that’s transparency acknowledgment of their own fault to the customers and trying to build better relations with a growing audience. Nintendo has stood the test of time in the gaming community Microsoft still being fairly new at approaching 19 years, with Nintendo starting and growing since the mid 70’s.