Desperate Nintendo Switch Owners Are Learning to Repair Their Own Busted Systems

Demand for replacement Switch parts has tripled during lockdown

Maddie Stone
Published in
6 min readMay 20, 2020


Photo: iFixit

Jorge Urquidi enjoyed two carefree years with his Nintendo Switch before experiencing the bane of all Switch players: In April, the joystick on his left Joy-Con controller started to drift, causing his Animal Crossing character to move toward the bottom right corner of the screen even when he wasn’t touching the controller.

“It just felt like all of a sudden, it was not working properly,” Urquidi, a water resources engineer based in Austin, Texas, told OneZero.

The owner of a pair of special edition Joy-Cons from Super Mario Odyssey, Urquidi didn’t want to send his faulty controller to Nintendo for repair even though the company will reportedly fix the problem for free because he was afraid Nintendo would send him back a generic replacement. So, he went on the DIY repair site iFixit, ordered a $20 repair kit, and replaced the faulty left joystick at home using iFixit’s step-by-step instruction guide. The repair took 20 minutes.

Urquidi’s decision not to send the controller to Nintendo turned out to be prescient. Although he wasn’t aware of it at the time, the company had announced in late March that all of its North American repair centers would be closed “until further notice” due to the coronavirus. Worse, any Joy-Cons Nintendo received during lockdowns might be forwarded to a warehouse “for temporary storage until repair services resume.”

While those repair services started to ramp back up on Tuesday, many Switch players have recently taken it upon themselves to repair faulty controllers at home. Thanks partly to the well-timed release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the fifth title in the popular series, the Switch has become an essential source of entertainment and connection for millions during the coronavirus lockdowns. But the more hours people pour into their consoles, the more controllers are falling victim to Joy-Con drift, a notorious factory defect in which the console thinks the joystick is being moved even when it’s not. While Nintendo’s repair centers were out of action, players tired of watching their Animal Crossing characters run in circles became gadget fixers.