My NES controller felt really awful. After ordering replacement rubber parts from a store, unscrewing my controller and replacing the original rubber parts with the new ones, it felt "like new" again.
Apparently, according to the person running the store, the rubber becomes hardened after X years, and that's why it starts feeling so bad eventually.
Even assuming that the NES controller I had was made in the mid-1980s, that's just about 35 years. And who knows how long it had already been "stiff" like that before I got it?
More than likely, the retro stores buy a large batch of these rubber parts at once, then resell them in small quantities to customers over years and years.
But then, if they spend years and years in stock, won't those rubber parts become "hardened" just like when they are inside the controllers? Just thinking about this stresses me out. And it's not just for the NES; SNES and Nintendo 64 and Saturn etc. also have such replacement rubber parts to buy, and those consoles were made much later than the NES. Quite "recently", really.
So how long does it really take for the rubber to "stiffen" like this? I had never heard of this being a thing before I experienced it myself. And does it only have to do with time, or does actual usage of the controller also matter?
The parts I bought came in a normal little plastic bag, which didn't seem especially air-tight or anything, so I assume that it starts aging as soon as it's manufactured.