“Stick drift” is right up there with other terms like “4K/60”, “raytracing”, and “teraflops” as one of the most-repeated phrases in the modern gaming world. Popularized primarily by the many accounts of it happening with the Joy-Con of the Nintendo Switch, the phenomenon has been reported to be affecting a lot of modern controllers. Now, it seems that Sony could have discreetly implemented some improvements to new DualSense controllers to potentially combat this issue.
Sony recently released new cosmic-inspired colorways for the PlayStation 5 and its accompanying DualSense controller. While the main difference compared to the standard offering is of course the cosmetic changes, it seems that the PlayStation engineering team also got a chance to make some refinements to the DualShock 5’s innards.
YouTuber TronicsFix posted a video where he tore down the new galaxy DualShocks, and by doing so, he made some interesting discoveries.
According to the video, while the battery has remained the same, the controller’s board has changed. And even more interestingly, the analog sticks have also been changed ever so minutely. Certain parts of the sticks have received color changes from black to green; not an obvious change, but a possible indicator of improvements having been made, as Tronics theorizes. He also discovered that the springs connected to the analog triggers are also ever so slightly bigger.
Considering that the changes are so minor, it’s hard to say for sure exactly if the difference will prove to be a positive down the line. Considering that Sony itself has not commented on the matter, consumers won’t know for sure until some more time has passed.
If the company did find a way to directly combat stick drift, it’s arguable that it probably wouldn’t have been shy about sharing that with the world considering how much of a concern it has become with consumers.
All things considered, we do at least have an idea of what causes stick drift in the first place.
This happens due to tiny little particles chipping away from the analog stick after repeated use. This degradation, although practically microscopic, does have an effect on the analog stick’s sensors, thus resulting in the ghosting effect that it creates on the axis. As such, the so-called “stick drift” problem is born.
As Tronics demonstrates in his video, a can of electronic contact cleaner can in a lot of cases mitigate (or even outright eliminate) the effect.
But, there have been many instances where the problem returns later on. In that case, you’re better off replacing the stick outright; the difficulty of such an operation depends on your controller. For example, a Joy-Con is relatively easy to fix. But, more complex controller like the DualSense and entire units like the Steam Deck are considerably more difficult.
No matter which controller you own, you’re likely to encounter it at some point. But, you may also never experience the problem at all. At this point, it’s a completely random issue, despite its perceived frequency.