How to fix Oculus controller joystick drift

Oculus Quest 2 With Controllers
(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Have you ever been immersed in a VR game only to have your in-game position suddenly seem to shift? Do you find yourself randomly having difficulty navigating menus? You aren’t alone; many VR players have struggled with the same issues. The cause of your controller woes is known as joystick drift.

Joystick drift is an increasingly common problem with controllers. The Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are infamous for their drift, and even the PS5 suffers from joystick drifting. When a controller is affected by drifting, it causes the joystick to move on its own without manual input from the player. This can lead to the aforementioned problems of sporadic character movement and difficult menu navigation.

Dealing with joystick drift can be a huge pain as it can make your entire Quest all but unplayable. Your first instinct might be to replace the controller outright; however, there are steps you can take that might be able to save you some money. Use these tips to try and fix Oculus controller joystick drift yourself before ordering a new Oculus Touch controller.

Replace your batteries

Oculus Quest 2 controllers with battery visible

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

The first thing you should do to try and fix any joystick drifting on your Oculus controller is to simply remove the battery, wait a few minutes, and then insert it again. If that doesn't work, try swapping in a new one. It's possible that simply replacing your battery will solve your issue. If that's the case, you might want to consider switching brands or investing in rechargeable solutions. There are many different battery options, so make sure to pick the one that is best for you.

Cleaning the controller

Oculus Quest 2 Vs Quest Controllers 10 Hold

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

If the problem isn't related to the battery, it’s time to inspect the area around the joystick. Push and hold the joystick in one direction to see if there’s anything that might be lodged either in or around it, such as small particles of dust (or potato chip crumbs — no judgment from us). Make sure there’s adequate lighting while inspecting your controller to give yourself a clearer view. If you do notice something around the joystick, then giving it a clean could be the solution to your drifting. A quick wipe with a microfiber cloth might be enough to do the trick. 

Many Oculus users report that the problem can be solved simply by moving the joystick around and blowing near the edges to remove the debris. However, if you’d rather not relive any memories of those out-of-breath struggles from the era of cartridge gaming, you could try using a can of compressed air instead.

Contact Meta Support

Unfortunately, if replacing your batteries and cleaning your controllers haven't solved your joystick drifting woes, then there's nothing else you can do on your end. You'll need to contact Meta Support and submit a support ticket directly. Your controller might have to get officially repaired or replaced entirely.

Do all Oculus controllers get joystick drift?

Oculus Quest 2 Vs Quest Controllers

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

If your Oculus controller hasn't had issues with joystick drift yet, don't worry — it's possible that it might never happen. Joystick drifting is a common and widespread problem, but it isn't completely universal. The cause of joystick drifting is usually something easily fixed, and regularly cleaning your controller can help prevent drifting.

That said, not every instance of joystick drifting is something caused by the player; if the steps in this guide haven't helped with your drifting, then the problem likely isn't something that could have been prevented. Sometimes joysticks get worn out over the years with regular usage; other times, the controller could just be faulty. If you have to ship your Oculus controller off for repair, you can always try using an alternative controller with your Oculus Quest or Meta Quest 2 in the meantime.

Nick Ransbottom
Freelance writer, VR/AR

Nick is a freelance journalist and games reviewer with a passion for RPGs, bad puns, and VR. When he isn’t guesting on podcasts or streaming on Twitch, he’s probably playing Borderlands with his husband.