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Analysis Hardware Ifixit shows why controller stick drift is happening (uses dualsense as example)

Moochi

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Oct 17, 2018
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1 stick movement per second is not unreasonable if you average across genres. An arcade shooter is going to be way above that, ditto with fighting games that have you constantly giving directional inputs. If you only play open world games, driving games, and rpgs then 1.4 seconds between movements is probably way too low.
 

Skifi28

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I am sure if someone market a "premium" controller that cost twice as much but last longer, that they would sell. We know people buy expensive keyboards and mice for gaming. And of course overpriced arcade fight sticks are a thing. There just seems to be the idea that if you use the standard controller, that you are casual.

Unfortunately, when Microsoft did it they still used the same shitty parts for the sticks.
 

martino

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Not only both Sony's and MS's pads appear to be using same very low quality stick modules that gets faulty very quick, but they're very inaccurate out of the box. [my DS4 right stick got broken in under ~100 hours mark of very light use in single player exclusives non online games. Right stick started drifting left on its own, basically won't recenter itself]

Here's a video from the thread made earlier exposing how terrible stock [even elite2] console controllers fair against a quality one:


Essentially if you want to have a quality controller with good sticks you have no choice, but to look elsewhere at something like Thrustmaster EswapX.
opening older controller you can also see how analog module have toward cheaper one....( more plastic being the easiest to spot)
Drift concerns are already here this gen...
and the situation is known for one generation and nothing has be done (at least they didn't go even cheaper)
 

dave_d

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After the N64 - the gamecube used joysticks with pots in them. Interestingly, the joysticks used in the GC controllers seem a lot more reliable - they are a very similar design, but don't have the push to click function and are made by Mitsumi.
Let fix this. here's the mechanism the N64 uses

https://i.redd.it/gt7fq9ph7z261.gif

Looks like you're right though, after the N64 it's pots all the way. (I need to read what you wrote more carefully.)
 
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NinjaBoiX

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I’ve played games fairly frequently for years over many console generations. I must’ve owned around 40-50 controllers in my time. I’ve honestly never once had a stick drift issue.

I think some people are just super heavy handed with their controllers, or have unrealistic expectations for the shelf life of their relatively cheap electronics.

This is such a non issue if you take care of your stuff.

Edit: just to note: obviously I’ve had sticks drift sporadically, this is part and parcel, but a quick wiggle and they’ve sorted themselves out. I’ve never been at the stage of the pad being unusable.
 
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JimboJones

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I’ve played games fairly frequently for years over many console generations. I must’ve owned around 40-50 controllers in my time. I’ve honestly never once had a stick drift issue.

I think some people are just super heavy handed with their controllers, or have unrealistic expectations for the shelf life of their relatively cheap electronics.

This is such a non issue if you take care of your stuff.

Edit: just to note: obviously I’ve had sticks drift sporadically, this is part and parcel, but a quick wiggle and they’ve sorted themselves out. I’ve never been at the stage of the pad being unusable.
It can sometime depend on the game I think, some games have pretty big dead zones and you don't notice others have very small deadzone and the controller either starts slowly moving in directions you didn't intend or at worst start flaking out all over. Chrono trigger on pc has a bunch of people complaining that their controller is freaking out because square set the deadzone to 0, when you increase it with steams controller config it sorts the issue.
 
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AgentP

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My take aways:
  • Every controller can do this after wear and contamination. i.e. this is not really a defect. It's like batteries that stop holding charge.
  • Warranty matters.
  • Class action lawsuits are ambulance chasers and will file no matter what knowing it will happen to many people after time.
  • Time for a new tech to solve this.
 

Rat Rage

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Thanks a lot for the video. It was super informative and a gives us important information about a very big issue. This explains why stick drift happens accross the board, because Sony, MSoft, Nintendo, all use the same parts for their joystick.

It probably isn't a secret to anyone that all the console manufacturers make a lot of money with selling joysticks/controllers. It's especially important for Sony and Microsoft, who often sell their consoles at a loss during the first few years. However, some console generations ago, joystick drift wasn't that prevalent. I think it started when Sony cheaped out on the Dual Shock 4 to keep manufacturing cost down and therefore even make more profit with their controllers.

I mean, a first party controller has never been cheap, but at least in the past, when you bought a dual shock 1, 2, 3, Nintendo controllers in general (yes, I know the N64 stick was shit, but that was due to the technology being so new) and Xbox controllers, you knew they were of great quality (which they actually were).

But in recent years, we've seen a trend of cheaping out with what's probably the most important device for any console, that also get's the most use: the controller.

All the big console manufacturers REALLY need to get their shit together and fix that issue in the future.
 
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Alebrije

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1 stick movement per second is not unreasonable if you average across genres. An arcade shooter is going to be way above that, ditto with fighting games that have you constantly giving directional inputs. If you only play open world games, driving games, and rpgs then 1.4 seconds between movements is probably way too low.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Good video.

But the last 30 seconds, it's obvious hardware makers just want gamers to buy another one instead of allowing it to be easily fixed at home with a $10 replacement part.

Looking at the insides, it looks like most of it is either a green chip or cheap plastic parts. So no surprise it'll get worn down or break. I'm surprised more gamepads aren't broken by simply gamers ramming the analogue sticks and the part just flying off.

On the other hand, for all you gamers from yesteryear place arcade games with people hammering joysticks, slapping buttons and smacking trackballs (complete with sweat, cigarette ash, and bits of food all on the dash), I can't remember one time I experienced joystick drift (or any broken joystick) on an arcade machine.
 
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Jan 11, 2019
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I’ve played games fairly frequently for years over many console generations. I must’ve owned around 40-50 controllers in my time. I’ve honestly never once had a stick drift issue.

I think some people are just super heavy handed with their controllers

This is such a non issue if you take care of your stuff.

Man, I knew this was gonna get posted sooner than later, and it still irks me. It really tickles my tendies when someone pulls the "I don't have the problem, it must be your fault" card.

I mean, you think you are the only cautious gamer?

Of course there is some user error involved in some/many cases, but there's also shitty manufacturing involved as well.

I am extremely careful. The drift on my DualSense's left stick is the first drift issue I have ever experienced in my life, been gaming for 30 years. The only thing I "did wrong" with my DualSense is use L3 to sprint in Control UE. I keep my electronics in pristine condition.

I am sure there are many people who will never experience drifting on their DS controllers. I bet the next one I buy will work flawlessly for the rest of the gen, but it still happened, and I was always careful with it. Maybe it is just bad luck. Who knows?

I was not super heavy handed, nor did I have an unrealistic expectation. It's been 3 months.
 
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xrnzaaas

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Good video.

But the last 30 seconds, it's obvious hardware makers just want gamers to buy another one instead of allowing it to be easily fixed at home with a $10 replacement part.

Looking at the insides, it looks like most of it is either a green chip or cheap plastic parts. So no surprise it'll get worn down or break. I'm surprised more gamepads aren't broken by simply gamers ramming the analogue sticks and the part just flying off.

On the other hand, for all you gamers from yesteryear place arcade games with people hammering joysticks, slapping buttons and smacking trackballs (complete with sweat, cigarette ash, and bits of food all on the dash), I can't remember one time I experienced joystick drift (or any broken joystick) on an arcade machine.
Depends on a region and its warranty laws. In EU it's not gonna be that easy for companies like Sony, because it easily falls under a 2 year warranty since drifting is not the customer's fault (unless the controller has been visibly damaged ofc). Two of my friends successfully returned their DS4's and got brand new ones. The only downside was that they got black ones as new, not the exact same color they had.
 
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KungFucius

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I am kind of pissed. This is really pathetic engineering. Or it is forcing the customer to rebuy controllers as a preventive/corrective maintenance. Poor battery life, poor overall life. Thanks Sony for making me go out of my way to buy used games to spite you assholes.
 
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Oct 26, 2018
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Depends on a region and its warranty laws. In EU it's not gonna be that easy for companies like Sony, because it easily falls under a 2 year warranty since drifting is not the customer's fault (unless the controller has been visibly damaged ofc). Two of my friends successfully returned their DS4's and got brand new ones. The only downside was that they got black ones as new, not the exact same color they had.
Shit. In the EU you guys get 2 year warranties by default?
 

TLZ

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Thanks a lot for the video. It was super informative and a gives us important information about a very big issue. This explains why stick drift happens accross the board, because Sony, MSoft, Nintendo, all use the same parts for their joystick.

It probably isn't a secret to anyone that all the console manufacturers make a lot of money with selling joysticks. It's especially important for Sony and Microsoft, who often sell their consoles at a loss during the first few years. However, some console generations ago, joystick drift wasn't that prevalent. I think it started when Sony cheaped out on the Dual Shock 4 to keep manufacturing cost down and therefore even make more profit with their controllers.

I mean, a first party controller has never been cheap, but at least in the past, when you bought a dual shock 1, 2, 3, Nintendo controllers in general (yes, I know the N64 stick was shit, but that was due to the technology being so new) and Xbox controllers, you knew, they were of great quality (which they actually were).

But in recent years, we've seen a trend of cheaping out with what's probably the most important device for any console, that also get's the most use - the controller.

All the big console manufacturers REALLY need to get their shit together and fix that issue in the future.
That's exactly what I told my wife yesterday, heh.

Man, I knew this was gonna get posted sooner than later, and it still irks me. It really tickles my tendies when someone pulls the "I don't have the problem, it must be your fault" card.

I mean, you think you are the only cautious gamer?

Of course there is some user error involved in some/many cases, but there's also shitty manufacturing involved as well.

I am extremely careful. The drift on my DualSense's left stick is the first drift issue I have ever experienced in my life, been gaming for 30 years. The only thing I "did wrong" with my DualSense is use L3 to sprint in Control UE. I keep my electronics in pristine condition.

I am sure there are many people who will never experience drifting on their DS controllers. I bet the next one I buy will work flawlessly for the rest of the gen, but it still happened, and I was always careful with it. Maybe it is just bad luck. Who knows?

I was not super heavy handed, nor did I have an unrealistic expectation. It's been 3 months.
I'm very careful with my stuff too and that's why they last forever. The Joycon was my first ever experience with stick drift. It's so bad it renders it unplayable.

Now I hope I don't experience this with the PS5 and SX as well.

These companies need to do something about this. And the controllers are getting more expensive too.
 
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Sejan

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I've been thinking about disassembling my Xenoblade Switch Pro Controller to see if the left analogue stick needs cleaned or replaced. Its starting to drift to the left sometimes. Makes Mario 3D world a lot harder to play.
 

Trimesh

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Was drift a thing for the dualshock4?

I never encountered it, or it was less noticible than the other issues of that controller (rubber breakdown, trigger breakage)

Yeah, it was certainly an issue, although given the number of units sold it's hard to say if it was actually excessive or just the failure rate you would expect. It's also a question of cost - a while back I was working on a project that used servo pots made by Penny and Giles as position sensors - as part of the testing we ran 100 of them through their full operating range for 100,000,000 cycles with zero failures and no measurable degradation of the operating parameters. Of course, that single pot cost substantially more than an entire Dual Shock controller.

Let fix this. here's the mechanism the N64 uses

https://i.redd.it/gt7fq9ph7z261.gif

Looks like you're right though, after the N64 it's pots all the way. (I need to read what you wrote more carefully.)

Yeah, I probably should have expressed that more clearly - the N64 mech is basically a mechanical mouse except driven by a lever rather than a ball. It also had serious wear and centering issues, not all of which could be attributed to Mario Party (although a lot of them could) - that's why people have made replacement joysticks that use those pot-based sensors and generate the quadrature signals using an MCU.
 
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ReBurn

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Built with shit parts confirmed.

My Dreamcast joystick never drifted in 20+ years. Same for my OG Xbox.
My Dreamcast joysticks did. I replaced my Dreamcast controller 3 times because of it. The OG Xbox controller S never drifted on me, though. It was always solid.
 

Trimesh

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My Dreamcast joysticks did. I replaced my Dreamcast controller 3 times because of it. The OG Xbox controller S never drifted on me, though. It was always solid.

That's really surprising - were these the original Sega controllers or third party? I've personally never seen an original DC pad (or for that matter a Saturn 3D pad that uses the same sensing mechanism) with drift.
 
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Never had any PS or Xbox analogue stick have drift ever. And I used to play COD a lot 10 years ago.

The funny thing about the old white 360 controllers is that you really get to see the dirt that accumulates in the seams, buttons and analogue sticks. That murky grey crud. I barely even cleaned them. They still worked fine.

PS2 gamepad never failed either.
 
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NinjaBoiX

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Man, I knew this was gonna get posted sooner than later, and it still irks me. It really tickles my tendies when someone pulls the "I don't have the problem, it must be your fault" card.

I mean, you think you are the only cautious gamer?

Of course there is some user error involved in some/many cases, but there's also shitty manufacturing involved as well.

I am extremely careful. The drift on my DualSense's left stick is the first drift issue I have ever experienced in my life, been gaming for 30 years. The only thing I "did wrong" with my DualSense is use L3 to sprint in Control UE. I keep my electronics in pristine condition.

I am sure there are many people who will never experience drifting on their DS controllers. I bet the next one I buy will work flawlessly for the rest of the gen, but it still happened, and I was always careful with it. Maybe it is just bad luck. Who knows?

I was not super heavy handed, nor did I have an unrealistic expectation. It's been 3 months.
So you’re definitely in the “it’s not really a problem if you look after your stuff” camp too then no?

Obviously there will be exceptions to the rule like everything in life, but some folk who post stuff like “I’ve been through 4 DualShocks in two years, fix this Sony!” Come on bro, you ain’t looking after your stuff...
 

MagnesG

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For the record, the joycon stick build is the worst among others so it makes sense that the failure rate is higher, but not by much actually.
 
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ReBurn

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1 stick movement per second is not unreasonable if you average across genres. An arcade shooter is going to be way above that, ditto with fighting games that have you constantly giving directional inputs. If you only play open world games, driving games, and rpgs then 1.4 seconds between movements is probably way too low.
I couldn't imagine using an analog stick to play a fighting game.
 

ReBurn

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That's really surprising - were these the original Sega controllers or third party? I've personally never seen an original DC pad (or for that matter a Saturn 3D pad that uses the same sensing mechanism) with drift.
They were original controllers. The one that came with it and I bought two of the color controllers. The last one I bought has been solid for years, though. That one was the European variant with the blue swirl.
 

Rat Rage

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But the last 30 seconds, it's obvious hardware makers just want gamers to buy another one instead of allowing it to be easily fixed at home with a $10 replacement part.

The whole controller probably doesn't even cost $10 to manufature. Sticks themselves probably only cost a few dollars, if even that.
 
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Trimesh

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They were original controllers. The one that came with it and I bought two of the color controllers. The last one I bought has been solid for years, though. That one was the European variant with the blue swirl.

Interesting - the joystick uses a ring magnet and 4 hall sensors so there is really nothing in there to wear - I wonder what the failure mechanism was? The only problems I ever had with the Dreamcast controllers were broken triggers on the early production Japanese units, but they seemed to fix that later.
 
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I’ve played games fairly frequently for years over many console generations. I must’ve owned around 40-50 controllers in my time. I’ve honestly never once had a stick drift issue.

I think some people are just super heavy handed with their controllers, or have unrealistic expectations for the shelf life of their relatively cheap electronics.

This is such a non issue if you take care of your stuff.

Edit: just to note: obviously I’ve had sticks drift sporadically, this is part and parcel, but a quick wiggle and they’ve sorted themselves out. I’ve never been at the stage of the pad being unusable.
Congratulations. You're a certified fucking moron.
 
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nkarafo

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All companies use the same shitty parts? What's this? Are they all into some planned obsolesce bullshit?

And it's not like these controllers are cheap either.
 

M1chl

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All companies use the same shitty parts? What's this? Are they all into some planned obsolesce bullshit?

And it's not like these controllers are cheap either.
The issue is that not much else companies doing this parts, I haven't found yesterday another one. Valve for example did their own sticks with different principle of sampli X,Y but based on internet that is breaking quite easily. Other options is to go with industrial parts, but one sticks then cost like Elite v2...but yeah that's Hall effect. I am kind of sensing hole in the market here for cheaper hall effect sensors.
 
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Haemi

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Talked about this before in another thread but the deadzones were huge in the older analogue sticks along with the sensors being 8 bit (they are 10 or 12 bit now) which meant this was never an issue back then.

It's nothing to do with the quality of the parts but rather the fact that the technology hasn't changed in line with the want/need for smaller deadzones along with higher precision/sensitivity.

Bigger deadzones would "fix" the issue on modern controllers as well but that just circumvents the issue rather than solve it.

As M1chl M1chl mentioned above, moving to Hall sensors is a possible solution but that would result in increased cost that would be inevitably passed to the consumer.

This is a good explanation. So the problem isn't, that controllers are getting worse. It's the opposite. Smaller deadzones and increased ADC resolution reveal the limitations of the potentiometer aproach.
 

Nikana

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So you’re definitely in the “it’s not really a problem if you look after your stuff” camp too then no?

Obviously there will be exceptions to the rule like everything in life, but some folk who post stuff like “I’ve been through 4 DualShocks in two years, fix this Sony!” Come on bro, you ain’t looking after your stuff...

So all the people who paid for new joycons or had theirs repaired before nintendo decided to fix it for free were just not taking care of their stuff.

All the people with drifting elite series 2 controllers until Microsoft decided to fix it for free were just not taking care of their stuff.

And the people with peeling rubber on dual shock 4s until sony repaired it and changed the material were just not taking care of their stuff.

Yeah the companies using cheap and shitty materials aren't the issue. It's the consumer not taking care of it.

You've got it backwards.
 
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Elektro Demon

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so fucking tired of controllers being sheit
There's a solution to that.
 
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There's a solution to that.
The Mouse is an example of a controller that got BETTER over time. And a big part of it is because there are so many manufacturers and options that the people who want pro gaming mice is catered to. I guess the question is if the market for high(er) quality console controllers is big enough to be a buisness opportunity.
 

NinjaBoiX

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So all the people who paid for new joycons or had theirs repaired before nintendo decided to fix it for free were just not taking care of their stuff.

All the people with drifting elite series 2 controllers until Microsoft decided to fix it for free were just not taking care of their stuff.

And the people with peeling rubber on dual shock 4s until sony repaired it and changed the material were just not taking care of their stuff.

Yeah the companies using cheap and shitty materials aren't the issue. It's the consumer not taking care of it.

You've got it backwards.
I’m more referring to people who regularly have these kind of issues, there’s got to be some kind of causality. It’s like people seem to either never have a problem or have loads of them.

It can’t just be blind luck that throughout all my years of using them I’ve never had this issue, yet others seem to have these problems all the time. That’s not how odds work.
 

Nikana

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I’m more referring to people who regularly have these kind of issues, there’s got to be some kind of causality. It’s like people seem to either never have a problem or have loads of them.

It can’t just be blind luck that throughout all my years of using them I’ve never had this issue, yet others seem to have these problems all the time. That’s not how odds work.

Your making assumptions based on your own experience only. That's not how odds work either.
 

NinjaBoiX

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Your making assumptions based on your own experience only. That's not how odds work either.
It’s not like I’m basing it on a tiny sample size, I must’ve owned 30+ controllers with not one failed thumbstick.

But yeah, I could just be a coincidence, stranger things have happened!
That isn't my picture but I made a point of finding a picture of a dirty keyboard on Google because of how dirty that mouse is 😅
Thank god for that, I didn’t want to say anything...😱
 

Fbh

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Holy shit. That was 5 minutes and to the point. Almost doesn't feel like a youtube video.

Anyway, sucks that basically every major console maker is using the same shitty parts. Though I guess this means the Dualsense isn't more susceptible to drift than the Ds4 or the Xbox controller, right?


It just feels like we, as a civilization that has landed robots on Mars, should be able to make joysticks that don’t drift.

We can, there's just less money in it for companies so they don't do it.

It's how a lot of modern electronics are made. Built to only be reliable for as long as warranty lasts, and made hard enough to repair that most people will just opt to buy a new one.

Business wise these controllers are genius. They don't break frequently enough to become a big scandal...but still frequently enough that a lot of people will have to buy several during any given gen
 
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wvnative

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Just got drift on my 10th dualshock 4 (yep, 10th)

dunno why they didn't get sued a long time ago.

But i am done buying new ones, gonna try using cronusmax scripts to adjust deadzone
 
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