Valve clearly wants to avoid Nintendo Switch’s infamous stick drift with the Steam Deck.
One of the bigger questions coming out following the Steam Deck hardware reveal concerns the durability of the handheld’s analogue sticks.
The Steam Deck has two of them, and many players’ experience with the Nintendo Switch lead them to question whether Valve’s device will also suffer from similar problems. Namely: stick drift, which refers to analogue sticks’ deteriorating accuracy and tendency to make slight movements on their own. These problems happen to almost all analogue sticks in modern controllers, but they were especially prevalent in Nintendo Switch consoles, to the point that Nintendo was sued multiple times, forcing company president to later apologise.
Valve is seemingly aware of all that, because the company has stressed that the Steam Deck’s analogue sticks are built with reliability in mind.
“We’ve done a ton of testing on reliability, on all fronts really – and all inputs and different environmental factors and all that kind of stuff,” hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat told IGN.
“I think we feel that this will perform really well. And I think people will be super happy with it. I think that it’s going to be a great buy. I mean, obviously every part will fail at some point, but we think people will be very satisfied and happy with this.”
Beyond rigorous testing, Valve also elected to pick more durable parts when designing the Steam Deck, specifically to avoid these sort of problems down the line.
“We purposely picked something that we knew the performance of, right? We didn’t want to take a risk on that, right? As I’m sure our customers don’t want us to take a risk on that either,” designer John Ikeda added.
This obviously doesn’t guarantee that Steam Decks won’t suffer stick drift, but it’s good to at least see Valve account for any potential problems with the analogue sticks, a stark contrast to Nintendo, who has not changed the design or build quality of the Switch analogue sticks, even in the more expensive OLED model.
The Steam Deck begins shipping this December.