Back to top

Why Do Controllers Break So Easily?

We have all been there. You buy a new console or even just a new controller. You are jamming games with your mates, everything is great. All of a sudden, your new controller starts doing weird things. Your mates start making fun of you because you aren’t playing so well anymore. As frustrating as this is, we need to understand why controllers break so easily.

The most obvious reason as to why controllers break so easily is because we often don’t realize how rough we are with them. This is coupled with the fact that although controllers might feel premium, they often aren’t. They are mass-produced with affordable materials.

Controllers start malfunctioning in different ways for different reasons. The reason might be how you play. An example for me is when I play Rocket League, the way I did the half-flip recovery led to my controller getting analog drift. Knowing what the problem is can help you determine how to prevent it from happening or fixing it when it does happen, so, keep reading.

First-party controller quality

First party console controllers are mass-produced, and they are done so in a way that they look premium, but in reality, they are not. This is for a good reason. Consoles need to sell, so prices need to be reasonable. You can always upgrade to a premium controller like the Xbox Elite Wireless or a Nacon Revolution for PlayStation.

I am not saying that first-party controllers are made from bad quality materials. They just aren’t made from premium materials.

Finding out why your controller keeps breaking

The lifespan of a controller is said to be 2 to 4 years. Some people manage to get that much out of their controllers. When you see people getting that much time out of their controllers, you have to ask yourself what you are doing wrong.

Like I said above, I went through so many controllers until I figured out what the problem was. I kept getting analog drift, which made playing some games almost impossible. In rocket League, when I did a certain mechanic, I would pull the analog stick down really hard. It was hard to pinpoint this because we often don’t realize that we are doing it.

In Fifa19, I played pretty normally, never had any problems until all of a sudden, I had to replace my controller three times in two months. Sounds crazy, right? This is what happened. I got a player, not just any player; I got my all-time favorite, Johan Cruyff. With Johan, an icon, I worked out, if I shoot with him at a certain angle from a certain distance, I was almost guaranteed to score.

I would pass the ball to Cruyff in this position and shoot “first-time.” It took me a while to realize that I was flicking the analog really hard in the same direction over and over again. This caused my controller to develop “Analog drift.”

Analog drift

Have you ever noticed, you are playing a game, and all of a sudden, your character starts moving on his own? Maybe in Rocket League, you do a simple double jump, and your car just automatically does a flip. If this happens to you, your controller probably has what is called analog drift.

What causes analog drift?

There are a number of causes for analog drift. I explained the reasons why I had the problem, and I want you to think, whenever you experience drift, is it always in the same direction? If this is the case, then the cause is probably the way you play games. We will lump this reason in with wear and tear.

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons for what causes analog drift on controllers:

  • Dirt: Over time, our controllers collect dust, and they gather dirt from around the house and your hands.
  • Sticky hands: Playing games with sticky or oily hands can cause the analog to get drift.
  • Spillage: This one is pretty obvious, but it is important. Once you spill something on a controller, you will be lucky if you only get drift and not something more serious.
  • Wear and tear: This is the most obvious reason; everything suffers from constant use. Sports games tend to decrease the lifespan of a controller the most.

How to fix analog drift

This depends entirely on what the cause is. Please remember that opening up your controller is done at your own discretion, and you could end up avoiding any warranties, so please consider that before you start.

If you do not want to open your controller, I found that having an air canister and blowing air into all the openings works a lot of the time. This is mainly for dirt, oil, and dust.

For component issues, you will have to open the controller, but I do not recommend this unless you are doing it, knowing that you might end up having to buy a new controller. Opening up the controller can void your warranty. Some of the pieces are small, and the minute you open the control, they might fall out of place.

Premium controllers

I normally only recommend two premium controllers, The Xbox Elite series for Xbox and the Nacon Revolution for PS4. While you do get others like the Scuf and the Razer Raiju, I found the other two to be best.

The Xbox Elite Series 2

This is Xbox’s premium wireless controller. It offers super-low latency, extra programmable buttons in the form of back paddles at the back, trigger stops, and more. The controller also has easy, endless customization with interchangeable analog sticks and D-pads. The elite series can be used on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The controller has an MSRP of $179.99 and can be bought on Amazon.

Razer Wolverine Ultimate (Xbox)

The Wolverine is a great alternative to the Elite series. It offers pretty much the same features, but it comes with a quick control panel for controlling things like mic chat, volume, and controller modes. It also has some signature Razer RGB goodness. The Wolverine can be used on PC and Xbox One. The wolverine can be found on Amazon for $149.99

The Nacon Pro Revolution Unlimited V3

This controller is for PS4 users. The Pro Revolution V3 can be used wired or wireless. It has customizable analog sticks, a very good touchpad, extra buttons, some LED goodness, and finally some extra weights for you yo get the most comfortable feel. The controller retails for $179.99 but can be found for as little as $140 on Amazon.

SCUF

It does not matter if you are on Xbox, PC, or Playstation; the Scuf controller has models for all platforms. They also have a wide range of models with different features. A lot of pro console gamers use Scuf controllers.

Scuf was actually one of the first third-party companies to make premium controllers with features like extra buttons at the back.

Conclusion

Controllers aren’t built to last forever. They are going to end up breaking eventually. You can prolong the lifespan of your controller by just taking care of it. Don’t play with oily or sticky hands. Use a microfiber cloth to regularly clean any dust and dirt off it.

If you are experiencing analog drift across different controllers, it can be because of the way you play. I recommend you take note of situations where you use the analog stick harder than usual. Take note of those situations and then try to beat the bad habit of playing too aggressively.

Premium controllers are great, but they can also suffer from the same problems. Hopefully, we see less of this problem with the next-gen of gaming gear.

David Sacks

I have worked in the IT industry since 2011 and have been an avid gamer my whole life. My first consoles were the sega genesis and the Nintendo SNES. I play both console and PC games, I love both. I decided to become combine my passion for gaming with my passion for writing.

Recent Posts