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Nintendo suggests Switch Joy-Con issues caused by interference (update)

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Hopefully you don’t have an aquarium in your house

Nintendo Switch - blue left Joy-Con with wrist strap Samit Sarkar/Polygon

The Nintendo Switch’s launch has been marred by reports of the console’s Joy-Con controllers desyncing, and while Nintendo is still investigating the issue, the company is now suggesting on its support site that wireless interference is causing the problem.

Reports of the Joy-Con issue began surfacing last week, when impressions of the Switch hit the web. The left Joy-Con controller’s synchronization with the console seems to be impeded when the device is obscured by a hand or other part of the body, which leads to problems like unresponsive controls in games.

People had been holding out hope that the Switch’s day-one update, which enables eShop access and other important features, would fix the problems. Although some players have found that the issues disappeared after the patch, others are still experiencing trouble with the connection. Of course, plenty of players haven’t encountered this situation at all.

When we asked Nintendo earlier today for a comment on the Joy-Con issues, the company sent us the following statement:

We have received some reports and are looking into it. As with all Nintendo video game systems, we will continue to monitor the performance of Nintendo Switch hardware and software, and make improvements when necessary. For help with any hardware or software related questions, visit http://support.nintendo.com.

That support site now features a page about the Joy-Con issue, and the guidance from Nintendo is to minimize the chances of interference with the Bluetooth signal that the Switch uses to communicate with the Joy-Con controllers. That applies to objects that can physically get in the way of the connection — Nintendo recommends putting the Switch “out in the open” as opposed to in these places:

Behind a TV

Near an aquarium

Placed in or under a metal object

Pressed against a large amount of wires and cords

Within three to four feet of another wireless device, such as a wireless speaker or a wireless access point.

Presumably, Nintendo meant to say “fish tank” rather than “aquarium,” but the point still stands — wireless signals will seriously degrade when traveling through bodies of water. The last suggestion there leads into Nintendo’s next recommendation, which is to “check for possible sources of interference and turn them off”:

Laptops, tablets, etc.

Wireless headsets

Wireless printers

Microwaves

Wireless speakers

Cordless phones

USB 3.0-compatible devices such as hard drives, thumb drives, LAN adapters, etc.

“In most cases it will be enough to move these devices three to four feet away from the Nintendo Switch console and/or Joy-Con controllers,” the support site says. “However, if you continue to experience this issue, please power these devices off while using the Nintendo Switch console.”

That’s a lot to ask, and it borders on the ridiculous. Modern homes — especially homes of the kind of people who buy video game consoles at launch — are filled with devices that emit wireless signals. Heck, most televisions these days include Wi-Fi.

It remains unclear if the problem is a hardware issue with the Switch, the dock or the Joy-Con units, or if it’s something that Nintendo can address with a system software update. But Nintendo is effectively asking Switch owners to play in a clean-room laboratory environment to ensure a solid Bluetooth connection, which isn’t a good sign.

For more on the Switch, read our review.

Update (6:45 p.m. ET): Nintendo has removed cell phones from the list of devices that may interfere with the Switch.


Watch: Nintendo Switch Hardware Review