Update: Valve says reports of Steam Deck stick drift were due to a bug included in a recent firmware update and that the team has already sent out a fix.
Here’s the statement a Valve spokesperson sent to GamesRadar:
“The team has looked into these reports and has determined there was a deadzone calibration issue introduced in a recent firmware update. We have just shipped a fix to address the problem, and the team will continue to watch for reports related to this issue.”
A few scattered reports of Steam Deck stick drift have surfaced just a few days after the handheld’s launch.
Many Nintendo Switch users are sadly well familiar with Joy-Con drift, which refers to a maddeningly common issue that causes the controller’s joysticks to register movement without any input from the player. It’s likely the reason Epona decided to carry you off a cliff while you were AFK playing Breath of the Wild.
Folks who pre-ordered the Steam Deck started receiving their units last week, and unfortunately there are already reports of a similar issue. The thing is, Joy-Con drift is an issue that typically emerges over time and after many hours of use, whereas people are experiencing Steam Deck drift within a week of receiving their units. That suggests it’s a completely different issue making the joysticks drift, and hopefully one that can be patched out quickly software side.
In a July 2021 interview with IGN (opens in new tab), Steam Deck hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat expressed confidence in the handheld’s reliability with regards to stick drift.
“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,” said 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.”
We could only find three videos that appear to show Steam Deck stick drift, and Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais recently told The Washington Post (opens in new tab) that he estimates “tens of thousands” of people are receiving their Steam Decks, so it doesn’t appear to be a widespread issue at this point. Regardless, we’ve reached out to Valve for comment and we’ll update this article if we hear back.
Check out our Steam Deck review to find out why we said it “will be part of a PC gaming revolution,” even if “early adopters should be ready to play their part in that journey.”