How to choose the best arcade stick

With arcade sticks becoming such a popular purchase amongst video game players, there is no shortage of companies that are trying to cash in on the demand for these particular game controllers. The arcade stick is the classic way to play video games and it has always been the optimal hardware for fighting games in particular. In this article, we are going to give you some important information on how to choose your first arcade stick.

Arcade sticks are not magical

One of the first things you need to consider when you decide that you want to buy an arcade stick is that they are not going to make you a better player. They are way better for fighting games than gamepads are, but the learning curve is long and it takes time to master their use.

Bat top or ball top

There are two types of arcade sticks that you can choose from. If you want details on the stick tops and the ways that people hold them, you can check our Arcade Stick 101 guide. The ball top has become the most popular choice for top players and enthusiasts alike, so we strongly recommend you purchase a stick with a ball top.

Eight or Six buttons

If you are planning to play nothing but fighting games with 6 button layouts, you will be fine with a stick with six buttons, but the truth is that it never hurts to get the 8 button layout if you want to use the stick for other games that might require more buttons. Most of the top sticks for modern consoles have 8 buttons anyways, so the 8 button layout is going to be quite good.

Make a considerable investment

This holds true for everything in life and we all know that you get what you pay for. The truth is that this is even more of a problem with Arcade Sticks because they take a much harder beating than most other controllers for gaming.

If you purchase a stick for less than $100, you are probably going to get a very low quality product that could break down in a matter of months. This is usually going to start with a button that stops working or a stick that gives you input response issues.

Top picks for your first stick

We would never recommend a cheap starter stick because it will not provide the accuracy and the control you need in order to get a good impression out of the experience. We recommend that you start with something like HORI Real Arcade Pro, which is available for most last gen and current gen consoles. Then you could get a Mad Catz TE round 2, which is arguably the best commercial stick and you can still find the older versions for a decent price.

If you really feel like spending no more than $80, you could get the Mad Catz SFV Arcade Fightstick Alpha. It’s not the most powerful and durable stick on the market, but it will get the job done until you decide to get an upgrade.

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