Fellas, it happened to all of us the first time didn't it? Take Gary for instance: caught up in the excitement of the moment, overcome with a primal urge to go at it full throttle, he thrust forward with such vigor that his balls routinely went off on one. A momentary sensation of fulfillment immediately gave way to the pangs of regret and embarrassment. He was going to have to get a lot better at this for anybody to cheer his performance in an un-ironic manner. It was all right in the end though, Gary mastered his ball control and wound up playing for an England side that weren't piss.
To have made the assumption, several words into that paragraph, that I was talking about willies was to be premature (haha), because as it becomes obvious, I'm talking about football while making an allusion to shagging. The point is, it's important to climax (haha) at an optimal moment, otherwise things tend to end up a tad embarrassing.
With that shitty little prelude out of the way, let's turn our attention to Nintendo's latest contraption: The Nintendo Switch, and its nefarious Left Joycon. At this point, it almost goes without saying that the lefty has caused a fair few people some considerable inconvenience during their time with the little £279.99 machine that could. A signal issue caused some lefties to loose connection with the console for varying amounts of time, making an untold number of Link's to plummet to their doom off of some dastardly mountain. This made for an understandable level of frustration for consumers whose new gadget didn't function properly. Since that day 1 issue surfaced, Nintendo have moved on from their original unhelpful statement - essentially, don't play it in areas with lots of interference - to a position citing 'manufacturing variations.'
Now let's get one thing clear. The Joycons are sleek, slender, smart little dudes, and thus necessarily have tiny guts and gubbins inside. To some, manufacturing variance, may sound stupid - internal chips are assembled by machines not people. Anyone who is familiar with building PC's, however, will understand this problem. The i5 4690k CPU chip housed in my rig, for example, has a base performance of 3.5Ghz. I can overclock (turbo boost) it, but, even if my cooling system remained constant, the extent to which I could overclock it would be distinct from another i5 4690k installed into the exact same system. Certainly, having the same model will more significantly affect the extent to which one can overclock their CPU, but the fact remains that 'significant variance' exists between the same model of chip. This is precisely down to microscopic variances in that occur during the manufacturing process. In essence, while questioning how well designed, internally, the left joycon is, is definitely valid, what may well have happened during Nintendo's testing, through luck, was a complete lack of the sync issue, or an inability to replicate the issue a statistically significant number of times prior to launch. Naturally, it is possible that Nintendo were aware of the problem and shipped it anyway, but given the robust nature of their prior hardware (Wii failure rate was 2.7% - Square Trade), such a conclusion seems unlikely. Even before the approx 1.5 million Switch sales to date, however, enough joycons shipped to make it clear that the problem existed for a portion of the player base.
Nintendo's initial response to the issue was poor - some gibberish about not using the Switch in areas with interference (Duh), but within 30 days of the console's launch, the problem has already been resolved at source. Moreover, those who are afflicted, have the option of freely sending their joycon to Nintendo for repairs, which Nintendo claim will be completed within a week in most cases. Is that ideal? No, but equally, aside from never having the issue at all, it's difficult to see what Nintendo can realistically do to make things better than what they have currently managed. There was an outbreak, it has been contained, the antidote now readily available.
Nevertheless, there are those on the perennially considerate internet who have decided to equate the joycon issue with the Xbox 360's infamous "Red Ring of Death" (RROD), which is nothing short of a totally shortsighted, premature, and knee-jerk reaction.
It is difficult to understate the extent to which the RROD really was a massive problem for several years of the 360's lifespan. As already mentioned, the Wii's failure rate was a measly 2.7%, the PS3's, 10.0%, the 360's 23.7% - of which about half were RRODs. The sample size is small, only a little over 16,000, but the data rigorously analysed by a warranty company, Square Trade, who also provide a number of graphs and tables which account for average console usage as well as age which you may find in the link at the bottom of this article. In short, their data is pretty damn good.
What's clear from the graph is that, excluding the RROD, the 360 was rougly as reliable as Sony's gear, while being massively outdone by the Wii. Including the RROD, however, renders the 360 just under 1.5 times as unreliable as the PS3, and about 7 times more unreliable than the Wii!
What's more, while the Switch issue has already been resolved at source in under a month, Microsoft didn't even acknowledge the RROD issue officially until 2007, well over a year after the system launched (Nov/Dec 2005, US/UK Respectively). In September, 2007, Microsoft began manufacturing 360's with newer "Falcon" chipsets, but only in terms of its CPU, the GPU remained at original design specs. It wasn't until November 2008 that the system was manufactured entirely under a '65nm' chipset process, dubbed "Jasper". What does that mean? Well, basically the simple answer is that the RROD wasn't cleaned up until the back end of 2008.
To quote Sqare Trade: 'Looking at the pre- and post- Falcon data, there is no discernable drop in RROD frequency. If anything, the date shows a sharp spike in reported failures for units purchased in Q2 2008.' In other words, things actually got worse after Microsoft started redesigning their hardware. Only with the advent of the Jasper release did things start getting under a more reasonable level of control.
Essentially, Square Trade's extensive data goes to show that Microsoft's RROD wasn't adequately addressed or fixed for several years into the consoles lifespan. Nintendo have not only addressed the joycon issue, they've fixed it. Subsequently, from a pure time perspective, these two issues are simply not even close to being equivalent.
Undoubtedly, the experience of consumers with Nintendo and Microsoft's customer support will vary. Some have had their RROD 360s repaired swiftly and without a recurrence of the original problem, while I personally know others who had their machine returned to them without the RROD being fixed at all and, once it was sent back a second time after being repaired, RROD'd again within a fortnight. Instances of positive and negative customer service will occur on the Nintendo side of things too, but the likelihood of analogous syncing issues ever resurfacing are at least minimal, unlike RROD sufferers. Moreover, while the Xbox was utterly bricked by its issue, the Switch can always be used in a portable configuration, and there's certainly something to be said for it being a controller, rather than a console, issue. A small blessing, Switch peripherals are expensive currently and some will prefer to use the Switch as a home console rather than a tablet or portable system, but it's a darn sight better than an elaborate paper weight.
As stated earlier, none of the differences between the issues which plagued the 360 against those which troubled the Switch make things particularly great for those affected, even though failure rates are an inevitable reality of new and even long standing technology. Still, the notion that these problems are analogous, or even that the joycon issue is pervasive, is immensely premature.
Today, there are over 300 million twitter users, and over 1 billion facebookers. Back in 2008, within the bounds of the RROD issue, there were 4.43 million twitter users, 100 million facebookers. It is of the utmost importance to consider the communications revolution which has taken place in only the past ten years. It would have been unthinkable for populist political movements such as Trump and Sanders to have had the successes they did only ten years ago. Communications revolutions have facilitated political mutation throughout U.S. history, from the telegraph, the the TV. Without the TV, many historians believe that Kennedy wouldn't have become President. It's easy to take changes in communications technology for granted, but real change is happening under our very noses.
Studies have found that twitter users, unsurprisingly, live in an echo chamber. Labour supporters retweet labour slanted content, Tory twitter users don't. When it comes to videogames, although the 360 modernised online gaming, a core factor behind its success, it still lived in a world wherein social media was not nearly as prominent. While many encountered the RROD, the echo chamber was confined to magazine subscribers and friend cricles. Fast forward ten years and, even if just 5% of bundled joycons were affected, 75,000 units would be faulty. Enough of those 75,000 customers tweeting about the same issue and websites will pick up on it. They'll report the issue, but won't be able to give any indication as to the numbers of Switches really affected. In turn, those interested in gaming might pick up on these tweets and articles regarding a problem, and add to the general noise that there is a problem. Again, actual numbers don't exist, but the echo resonates louder and louder. In an age where citizens encroach upon terrain previously held by journalists in reporting events, either through youtube videos, tweets, or blogs, it becomes increasingly important to try and keep actual evidence in mind.
While there is clear evidence that joycon issues have affected Switch owners, there is no solid evidence that the issue is as pervasive as the RROD.
Time will tell if the number of joycons affected mirrored RROD rates, but one thing is for certain. If the RROD did actually recur within one of today or tomorrow's major consoles, the social media echo would be deafening.
Square Trade Article: https://www.squaretrade.co.uk/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_Xbox360_PS3_Wii_Reliability_0809.pdf
"Did Social Media Produce the new Populism?" http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/02/22/did-social-media-produce-the-new-populism (a long article, well worth a read)
"No Widespread Technical Problems with Swithc Joycons - Nintendo: http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2017/03/no_widespread_technical_problems_with_switch_joy-cons_claims_nintendo
"Twitter accounts really are echo chambers": https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/04/twitter-accounts-really-are-echo-chambers-study-finds
"Facebook user stats"
Twitter User Stats: https://www.statista.com/statistics/282087/number-of-monthly-active-twitter-users/
More Twitter stats: http://mashable.com/2009/01/09/twitter-growth-2008/#wr5aC8Gr7Gqa
"Manufacturing Variations" - Nintendo http://kotaku.com/nintendo-says-joycon-wireless-issues-were-caused-by-man-1793530147