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A growing number of PlayStation 5 users have started to report experiencing DualSense controller drift since the next-gen console launched late last year. Much like the issue that plagues an alarming number of Nintendo Switch JoyCons, DualSense drift causes a controller's sticks to constantly drag in a certain direction, as if possessed. As someone who has had two sets of JoyCons go through this, I can confirm it is incredibly irritating.
Last week it was reported that legal action is being taken against Sony over the fault in the next-gen controller, but fans everywhere are wondering why it got to this point in the first place. Fortunately, a new video from veteran tech channel iFixit may have revealed what the heart of the problem is.
In a lengthy teardown of the DualSense controller, iFixit claims that PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox controllers have "a long history of predictable, preventable issues" thanks to stock joystick hardware in their pads. In other words, it seems that most DualSense controllers may well be doomed to drift sooner or later - it's just a matter of time.
As explained in the video below, the DualShock 4, the Xbox One, and Xbox One Elite, and DualSense controllers "could easily exceed their operating life in just over 400 hours of game time". Less than ideal given that a controller typically costs £60 these days.
iFixit also looked into an information sheet obtained from the manufacturer of the joystick parts that appear in many of these controllers, a company called ALPS.
This revealed that the expected lifetime performance of a joystick would be roughly 2,000,000 cycles, with the 'click' of the joystick only able to survive around 500,000 cycles. This is because the controller's potentiometer begins to wear down after repeated use, and the spring-loaded device that keeps the joystick centered will start to deform with frequent use. With these two mechanisms wearing down in tandem, it's only a matter of time for the controller.
By iFixit's analysis of the joysticks use in a standard game of Call of Duty: Warzone, it's believed you'll get around 417 hours of gameplay out of the sticks before the performance starts to turn sour.
VGC pointed out that by this metric "if a PS5 player used their console for two hours a day, they would technically exceed their controller's operation life expectation within 7 months." That is... not great.
Fortunately, if you don't feel like whipping out another £60, sending the controller back to Sony, or starting yet another class-action lawsuit, there are steps you can take. The above video explains in fairly clear terms what simple steps you can take to keep everything working as it should be. Even so, of course, that's not something we should have to think about while we're playing video games. If a controller breaks because I threw it at a wall in a blind rage? That's on me. If my controller breaks because I used it for more than 400 hours? Not cool, Sony.
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