Here's What Valve Is Doing To Avoid Thumbstick Drift On Steam Deck

Steam Deck
The design team behind Valve's upcoming Steam Deck is confident that controller drift will not be an issue on the handheld gaming PC. We will have to wait and see if that is truly the case, but we are crossing our fingers that drifting will not rear its ugly head, as it can be a major point of frustration among gamers.

We have already seen this with Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers for its Switch consoles. Joy-Con drift issues have led to class-action lawsuit against Nintendo, an apology from the company, and various hacks and mods aimed at solving the problem. More recently, a modder discovered that a fix could be as simply as sliding a piece of paper or cardboard around 1mm thick inside the Joy-Cons.

Even though they are very different beasts, the Steam Deck has drawn inevitable comparisons between it and the Switch, because of the physical form factor—they are both handheld systems with controllers on both sides. Both also utilize thumbsticks, so it is fair to wonder if drifting will be a problem.

In an interview with IGN, Steam Deck hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat said he and his team have "done a tone of testing on reliability on all fronts," including "all inputs and different environment factors and all that kind of stuff." He is confident the Steam Deck will "perform really well" and that customers "will be super happy with it."

Reiterating the point, Steam Deck designer John Ikeda noted that a lot of thought went into the part selection, including the controllers and how they function.

"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," Ikeda said.

The design team's comments on the Steam Deck are encouraging, provided they pan out. We remain cautiously optimistic. Outside of the controllers, the Steam Deck sports a 7-inch display with a 1280x800 resolution and 60Hz refresh rate, powered by a custom 4-core/8-thread Zen 2 processor clocked at 3.4GHz, RNDA 2 graphics, and 16GB of RAM.

Users can choose between three models—one with 64GB of eMMC storage ($399), 256GB of faster NVMe storage ($529), and 512GB of NVMe storage ($649). The two higher priced models both come with a carrying case.

Interestingly, even though the two higher priced models sport an NVMe SSD, Valve opted for the M.2 2230 form factor and said they are "not intended for user replacement." Instead, Valve envisions people using the microSD card slot for added storage, if and when they need it.

The Steam Deck is already proving popular. Reservations opened earlier this week at $5, with availability estimated for December. This prompted a rash of listings on eBay at hyper inflated prices.

You can still reserve a Steam Deck for $5 down, but at the time of this writing, it shows availability as being the second quarter of 2022.