Nintendo Switch 2 stick drift may be dead with ‘smart fluid’ patent

Nintendo Switch 2 stick drift - Mario looking curiously at green Joy-Con

Nintendo Switch 2 stick drift - Mario looking curiously at green Joy-Con

After half-a-decade of stick drift disaster, Nintendo is making huge changes with the Nintendo Switch 2. According to a recent patent, Nintendo Switch 2 stick drift will no longer be an issue due to “smart fluid” solutions.

The new Nintendo patent aims to reduce or eliminate stick drift issues in its joy-con controllers via the use of “magnetorheological fluid”. This magnetised fluid is able to change its viscosity in response to magnetic fields, replacing the current racks that keeps analogue sticks in place.

The patent reveals that the colloquially dubbed “smart fluid” will be able to alter viscosity as the player moves the stick. Once the player lets go of the stick, it is able to revert back to its original position just like traditional analogue sticks.

Magnetised joy-sticks are not exactly new. In fact, the recent trend of Hall Effect sticks use magnets to circumvent stick drift. However, Nintendo believes that its viscous fluid will result in a much more natural feeling to the player instead of the more unnatural feeling provided by Hall Effect magnets.

Nintendo claims that the MRF of the “smart fluid” can be manipulated in software, allowing more or less stick resistance as players want. This could mean that alongside sensitivity settings, the Nintendo Switch 2 joy-cons could allow players to change their stick resistance at the press of a button.

Furthermore, Nintendo could use the smart fluid as a gameplay feature. For example, in a 3D platformer, heavier characters could have more stick resistance whereas slicker characters could have less resistance. In essence, it would be similar to the resistive nature of the PS5’s DualSense triggers but for gaming’s most common controls.

Nintendo Switch stick drift has been a huge issue for the console since its launch in 2017 with Nintendo having to replace thousands of controllers every year. With the Nintendo Switch 2 specs aiming to be a huge boost over the original with features such as Nvidia DLSS and ray-tracing, the absence of stick drift could make this a much more attractive day one purchase.

The Nintendo Switch 2 is currently scheduled to release in 2024, according to multiple leaks. Nintendo’s new console has already been shown to numerous development partners with an upgraded Breath of the Wild showcase. Dev kits are currently in the hands of developers.

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