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A hot potato: Not even a week after Valve's Steam Deck launch, multiple early adopters have reported drifting joysticks. The portable PC's sticks are relatively easily replaceable, but Valve still advises customers against attempting at-home repairs.
On Tuesday, at least two Reddit users demonstrated drift in the Steam Deck's right joystick. Both posted videos showing the system's controller input testing screen registering input while the thumbstick isn't moving. Drifting starts after the stick is moved and reset to the neutral position. It ceases when it is moved again.
Two cases among the many Steam Decks in the wild don't signify a trend, but it isn't a good sign the ailment is showing up soon after launch. Stick drift usually results from wear and tear after long hours of use.
Fortunately, replacing the Steam Deck's thumbsticks isn't too complicated, as iFixit discovered last month. Still, Valve advised against DIY repairs in October and did so again in a recent interview with Rock Paper Shotgun.
"We recommend repairs are left to pros or returned to Valve for anything that goes wrong, if that comes up," said Valve engineer Pierre-Loup Griffais.
However, Griffais still acknowledged that cracking the case open is a part of the PC gaming experience that will never go away. As such, Valve officially authorized iFixit to sell replacement Steam Deck parts for anyone who still wants to attempt a DIY repair, though they aren't available yet. Third-party repair shops will likely eventually offer to repair Steam Decks as well.
For the time being, stick drift is pretty much unavoidable for controller users on every modern game platform. Customers have brought lawsuits against Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony over the issue. Last year, iFixit's teardown of the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller showed that all the console manufacturers made the same "willful cost-saving calculation."