TL;DR: Sony might have been feeling pretty smug as it watched rivals Nintendo and Microsoft hit with lawsuits over their controllers’ drifting issues, but the company is now facing similar problems with some of its PlayStation 5 DualSense units—and getting them repaired isn’t the easiest process.
The DualSense has been singled out as one of the PlayStation 5’s best elements, but some users have reported their controllers are displaying drift—analog sticks detecting phantom inputs. It can make the likes of platformers and first-person shooters almost unplayable.
One PS5 owner wrote on Reddit that the drift problem began less than ten days after receiving the console. They tried everything to fix it, including turning Bluetooth off and on, power cycling the console, resetting the controller, and charging it overnight. But nothing worked.
Another Redditor posted a 15-second video of controller drift affecting Destiny 2. The person isn’t touching the sticks, yet the game is clearly receiving an input.
Despite outselling the 3DS family within three years of launch, the Nintendo Switch has been plagued with drift problems, resulting in class-action lawsuits. The company finally apologized for the situation last year, and a French watchdog group recently lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission against Nintendo over the defect.
Microsoft has also been hit with a class-action over joystick drift in its Xbox One controllers; the $180 Xbox Elite Controller was added to the suit last October.
Kotaku reports that PS5 controller drift is covered by the console’s warranty, and Sony’s PlayStation support page has a dedicated portal for dealing with PlayStation 5 hardware problems, but the whole process appears painfully arduous, often involving long phone calls listening to automated messages. You also have to pay the cost of shipping affected controllers to a Sony repair center, and while the company will pay for return postage, there’s no reimbursement for the initial shipping label.
The DualSense issues appear to affect only a small number of owners, thankfully. Let’s hope it stays that way.