Video Gamers File Class-Action Lawsuits About Drifting Controllers

If you are a video game afficianado, you know that the controller can make or break your experience. If the controller is just a little bit off, it can ruin your video game experience and make your system almost useless. Microsoft is facing a lawsuit on these exact grounds as users claim that the controller experience something knows as "stick drift" on their Xbox Elite controller. This is a similar lawsuit to the one that was filed against Nintendo. In the case of Nintendo's customers, the lawsuit has already begun to make a difference.

A Lawsuit Is Filed Against Microsoft in Washington

The plaintiff in the Microsoft case is a man named Donald McFadden. He has filed a class-action lawsuit in the District Court for the Western District of Washington. This is where Microsoft is based. The short of the allegations is that a design flaw in the controller causes the controller to jump around without any input from the user.

The specific problem is that there is resistive material on the curved track on which the potentiometer operates. This is the part of the controller that translates the user input. The material that gets scooped up gets stuck to the wiper in the controller. This causes unwanted movement that is not guided by the user. This is when there is phantom movement that causes the game to jump around on its own. The plaintiff claims that this ruins his gaming experience and deprives him of the accuracy of his gameplay.

The plaintiff twice bought upmarket video game controllers for his Xbox system. The second time he purchased the controller, he claims to have spent $160 just on the controller alone. The plaintiff also claims to be an experienced gamer who knows how to take apart and repair his own equipment. The complaint states that he spent 12 hours trying to fix the problem on his own, but the controller continued to drift. Eventually, he stopped using the expensive controller and bought one for $20 at Walmart.

There have been complaints dating back for at least six years about the same exact problem on numerous Xbox controllers. Thus, this lawsuit could turn out to be a big problem for Microsoft if it can be shown that the controller was defective and the company knew about the issue. Xbox sales have amounted to billions of dollars for the software giant so the class could end up being rather large if it gets certified by the court. However, some are saying that users are exaggerating the problems with these controllers.

Video Game Giant Nintendo Is Also Facing a Similar Lawsuit

Nintendo is also the defendant in a similar lawsuit filed by customers. In July 2019, there was class-action lawsuit alleging that Switch Joy-Con controllers were defective. The plaintiffs also claimed that these controllers experienced the same exact drifting issue. Not long after the lawsuit was filed, Nintendo agreed to begin repairing customers' controllers free of charge. Like Microsoft, Nintendo is also alleged to have known of these alleged defects for a long period of time but continued to sell the products.

The plaintiffs originally alleged that Nintendo was refusing to fix the controllers for free. The company would repair the controllers within the warranty. However, once the one-year warranty expired, customers were left to deal with a controller that was not properly working. They could either pay to have it repaired or purchase a new one. However, when they purchased a new set of controllers, they would continue to experience the problem with the new unit.

Nintendo attempted to have the case dismissed. However, the federal judge assigned to the court did not grant its motion to dismiss. However, Nintendo did have another victory in this case. The judge granted Nintendo's motion to compel arbitration. Many times, product makers will quietly stick a term into the purchase agreement that will take away the purchasers right to a class action lawsuit. Many times, this language is upheld by a court. Here, the class action is on hold pending the results of the arbitration.

However, this does not completely kill the prospect of a class-action lawsuit in this case. It just means that arbitration must happen first, and the case can only be restated if arbitration fails. For Nintendo, there is at least some incentive to remove the possibility liability it may face in connection with one of its best-selling products.

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