Analog stick drift has become an issue of increasing concern for players, with the Nintendo Switch being particularly susceptible, but far from the only platform that suffers from it. Understandably, people were particularly worried about the possibility of stick drift with Valve’s new Steam Deck, as the portable PC’s integrated controls aren’t as easy to replace as a standalone gamepad. Valve specifically addressed the question of drift last year, promising they’d done tons of testing…
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. 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.
Well, the Steam Deck is now arriving in actual players' hands, and it seems analog stick drift hasn’t been completely eradicated. Already, there are a number of first-hand reports on Reddit (here, here, and here) of drift, with the right camera stick seemingly being most affected. Now, of course, this is a small sample size and faulty hardware happens, but still, it’s disappointing to see these issues reported so soon given Valve’s previous assurances.
The good news is, unlike the Switch, replacement parts (including new analog sticks) will be sold for the Steam Deck, so some drift isn’t going to render your system unusable. Replacement parts for the Steam Deck will eventually be sold via iFixit, although they’re not available just yet.
The first Steam Deck units began shipping on February 25. Going forward, Valve will ship units to those who pre-ordered on a first-come, first-served basis.