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PS5 Controllers Are Broken. Here’s What to Do.

Sony is facing some major issues with the PlayStation 5 controllers. After months of short stock and angry gamers, this is a bad sign... is your PS5 controller broken, too?
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If you’re a Nintendo fan, you might be saying, “welcome to the club”. But recent reports indicate that the PlayStation 5 DualSense controllers are breaking in large numbers, and so far, Sony… does not seem to care.

Drifting on the new and improved controller is becoming a serious problem. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is controller drift?

What is controller drift, you ask? Okay, take a look at your PlayStation controller. Or, really, any controller – Xbox, Switch JoyCons, whatever.

the playstation 5 controller next to the playstation 4 controller
Photo Credit: Mary Newman

The joysticks that control motion are very important to the controller structure. When your controller is working properly, you probably don’t even think about it – the stick is centered and untouched, so your character isn’t going anywhere.

When controller drift happens, the ‘dead zone’ of the controller – or the area where there is no movement – doesn’t exist. The controller constantly reads a pull left or right, and causes the character in game to ‘drift’ slowly.

This is… obviously a problem. When you’re playing a slower paced game or a turn-based RPG, it’s not the end of the world, but it is annoying. With games like Call of Duty? Unplayable.

Lots of controllers are having issues

While it hasn’t been covered a lot by the media, it seems like a lot of people are having issues with their PS5 controllers. A quick search through the /r/PS5 subReddit would indicate that a number of users are struggling with their controllers.

This post from two months ago is a user who had their console for just 10 days when the drift started in their controller. This user from a month ago estimates they only have about 20 hours of gameplay on their PS5, and are already experiencing drift.

Someone else in another thread said that the parts to the sticks on the PS5 controllers are almost identical to those on the PS4 controllers, which… yep, are prone to drifting.

via GIPHY

Does Sony care?

It’s hard to say if Sony actually cares that their controllers are failing at a concerning rate. If you purchased your system new and you haven’t voided any of your warranties, you can go through Sony’s warranty system and get a fixed, or completely new, controller sent to you.

The downside? You have to pay for your own shipping to get the controller to Sony, though they will cover the return shipping. That’s something, at least… I guess.

It’s a small something to someone that spent $500 on a console, and they can’t play it because their control broke within a few weeks of purchase. It’s a bummer, too, because the controller probably is one of the coolest parts of the console. The vibration, the feedback, it’s so incredibly well done.

Related: Why Can You Still Not Find a PS5 in Stores?

What are your other options?

Okay, so you’re hesitant to reach out to Sony and send off your only controller for a few weeks while they fix it, plus pay for shipping?

There are a few things you can do.

When you plug in your PS5 controller to your PC, Steam has settings that let you map the controller. Using those, you can also see if there is drift, just by watching how it moves on the settings.

via GIPHY

This will determine if it’s a temporary issue, or if you’re really experiencing drift.

Dot ESports went into detail on how you can fix a controller with drift, but none of their methods are foolproof – they seem to be a hope for the best situation, and it’s clear that it’s totally possible that even after all the work, you could still end up with a broken controller.

Some of their solutions, in case you don’t want to read their article, including resetting the controller (using the little hole in the back of it, you’ll need a pin), cleaning the analog sticks, updating everything, and even turning the Bluetooth on and off on your actual PS5.

Related: 2021 in Gaming: What We’re Looking Forward To

The bottom line

I’ve got a PlayStation 5. I’ve had it since day one, when I was lucky enough to score a preorder back in September, months before it released. I talked about my first experiences with the console here. Since getting the console, we’ve put a lot of time into it – we’ve beaten Miles Morales, got a platinum in Demon’s Souls, and beaten Maneater.

via GIPHY

My husband also uses the PS5 controller on his PC and Nintendo Switch. So all those hours we put into the Monster Hunter Rise demo have been on that controller, without issue.

I personally have not experienced drift with the controller. I was also lucky enough that my Nintendo Switch JoyCon had no drift as well, despite many users not being so lucky.

It’s awful that this $70 controller is having so many issues. Hopefully, Sony addresses is properly – but if the way Nintendo handled their JoyCon issue is any indication, well… it’s not looking good.

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