Valve's handheld gaming PC, Steam Deck, has finally started making its way to people and while the general reception so far seems to be positive, many have reported incidents about the device's thumbsticks "drifting", even when there is no human input. This is a relatively common problem in controllers and the Nintendo Switch console is actually notorious for displaying this problem.
However, if you just received your Steam Deck or were eager to get your hands on it, and these recent reports have got you thinking about the machine's durability, it seems that you have no reason to worry at all. Even though the drift problem is usually due to a hardware issue, it was actually due to a "deadzone regression" contained in a botched firmware update in Valve's case. What's even better is that Valve has already released a fix and recommended that gamers update to it as soon as possible. As explained by Steam Deck engineer Lawrence Yang on Twitter:
Hi all, a quick note about Steam Deck thumbsticks. The team has looked into the reported issues and it turns out it was a deadzone regression from a recent firmware update. We just shipped a fix to address the bug, so make sure you’re up to date.— Lawrence Yang (@lawrenceyang) March 2, 2022
If you have never experienced stick drift on your gaming hardware, consider yourself lucky. It is a very annoying issue in which the analog stick continues to pass input to the game even when you're not touching it. Imagine slowly crossing a narrow bridge in Elden Ring and suddenly, your character dashes to the right and falls to their doom.
Although this is typically due to a manufacturing fault, wear and tear, or dust particles getting trapped in the sensors, Steam Deck fans will be relatively pleased to know that this was just due to a firmware issue. Only time will tell how resistant the Steam Deck actually is to rough and/or prolonged use, though.