UFC Que Chooser accuses Nintendo of planned obsolescence

A recurring failure on the controllers of the Nintendo Switch console poisons the lives of players.

The UFC Que Choisir association is filing a complaint against the Japanese giant Nintendo. It has become a near-scandal and it has a name: “Joy-Con Drift”, named after the Joy-Con, the small controllers for the Nintendo Switch console, released in 2017. Some no longer respond normally and characters from game get out of hand on the screen. A phenomenon which has lasted for several years and which would affect thousands of players around the world.

At the beginning Nintendo required to pay 45 euros to replace a controller no longer covered by the legal warranty. Faced with the scale of the phenomenon, the Japanese brand has relaxed its commercial conditions and now replaces defective controllers free of charge. Nintendo even apologized. But the problem is that, obviously, the defect remains, including on recent series.

Planned obsolescence or simple manufacturing defect?

In the United States, collective action has been initiated. She has been stalling since last year. In France, the UFC Que Choisir, which claims to have collected more than 5,000 testimonies, has chosen a different, unexpected legal path: it files a complaint for planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence is a concept that is often used in all sauces. A priori, this problem mainly resembles a manufacturing defect. This is reminiscent of a similar concern on certain keyboards of Apple laptops, which freeze due to dust, about which we never spoke of planned obsolescence.

The crime of planned obsolescence is recent in France. It was created by the 2015 law on energy transition. The penalties are heavy, since they can go up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of € 300,000, or even 5% of annual turnover.

“Create an electroshock”

The UFC Que Chooser does not hide it: it wants to create an electric shock and “Break the spiral”, in the words of Raphaël Bartlomé, head of the legal department of UFC-Que Choisir. According to the association, the fact that the fault has still not been resolved and that it encourages people to buy controllers to solve the problem as quickly as possible would lead to consumption, as if it was done on purpose.

The investigation of this complaint and the court decision will therefore be particularly interesting to follow, in relation to the very notion of planned obsolescence.

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