In recent years, controller stick drift has become a huge cause for frustration in the gaming community, and any new piece of hardware is subject to scrutiny on it. With Valve’s new Steam Deck however, the designers are confident that their sticks won’t suffer from the issue.
Speaking to Valve as part of a Steam Deck hardware deep-dive (coming later this month as part of IGN First), we made sure to ask about drift, and if it had been part of the thought process when designing the machine.
“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,” replied hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat. “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.”
Steam Deck designer John Ikeda added that the parts involved were part of that thought process: “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.”
Revealed with IGN yesterday, the Steam Deck is a new handheld PC from Valve, designed to play the entirety of the Steam library, and able to do much more besides. The cheapest version of the handheld is $400 – far less than the typical gaming PC, but on the upper end of console pricing, and that comes down to meticulous thought about its quality and its affordability, something Valve president Gabe Newell called “painful”, but “critical”. We’ll have much, much more for you on the Steam Deck as July rolls on.
Controller or Stick Drift is a technical issue – often caused by dust or degraded parts – which sees controllers register movement on a joystick when none is being applied. It’s led to multiple lawsuits against game hardware creators, and has remained an issue for years on Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. You can find out more about the issue (and potentially how it might be fixed) in our rundown of the science behind controller drift.