5 benefits of using an Arcade Stick

The first fighting game that I took seriously was Street Fighter IV. The year was 2009, and it’s fair to say that I was a bit of a scrub.

I had played many fighting games before that, of course. I was a big fan of Tekken, and even though I was average at best at that game, I wanted to take my fighting games more seriously.

Along comes Street Fighter 4; I had never really played a Street Fighter game before then (I know), but rave reviews and what was a lot of hype at the time encouraged me to give the game a shot.

I was hooked. The game (and its many iterations) was amazing (and still is, in my opinion), and I spent dozens of hours scrubbing out Hadokens, Dragon Punches, and Tatsus.

I was good, or at least I thought I was good. But unfortunately, I was quickly brought back down to earth when I took my game online. After what seemed like dozens of losses, I quickly realized that I wasn’t as good as I thought.

But I didn’t give up. The game was a lot of fun. I wanted to take my game seriously and basically — get good.

After researching and looking at how the pros played, I found one thing in common. They all pretty much used a fightstick.

So I decided that I would invest in one and up my game. But, unfortunately, an arcade stick won’t instantly make you a better player if you’re bad at fighting games.

But the fact that I decided to invest in an arcade stick confirmed that I wanted to take things seriously. If I bought an arcade stick, I would have to use it, which meant after some practice, I would get good.

I did get pretty good. So good that eventually, I started competing in local tournaments and winning them.

Would I have gotten so good without an arcade stick? I don’t think so. However, an arcade stick has many advantages over a traditional controller or Fightpad.

In this article, I will list 5 benefits of using an arcade stick. Many of these are from my own experience, but I have also researched online and found benefits that other players have had using an arcade stick over a controller.

Benefit 1. Execution

A lot of players find that an arcade stick allows for better execution, especially in those games which require precise button presses.

Now, if you’re switching from a controller to an arcade stick, you probably won’t notice the difference immediately. It, of course, takes a bit of practice to get used to a stick.

But in the long term, compared to playing on a controller, your execution will improve much faster.

Let’s examine why this is the case.

Firstly, having the buttons in front of you, like they are on a stick, means they are much easier to reach.

This is important for quick combos or techniques that require faster button combinations.

In addition, in certain situations like blocking, wave-dashing charging, or doing Shoryukens easier, a joystick makes finding these corners easier.

I also find that having your fingers in a certain position for a move or input means muscle memory is a lot easier to retain.

This is partly due to the audible feedback you get when you hit a button. As a result, hitting a button on a pad doesn’t feel as responsive.

I learn things reasonably quicker when playing on an arcade stick.

Benefit 2. Comfort

Comfort is important, especially for longer gaming sessions. In my experience, playing on a stick is much more comfortable than playing on a pad.

The reason for this is quite simple. On the pad, depending on how you play, most of the time, you are going to be using your thumbs. Of course, this isn’t everyone, but I do this anyway.

After a while, my thumbs get sore trying to execute all the moves and inputs.

It’s usually only a matter of time before I will get Hadoken blisters after a long session using the D-pad.

However, on a stick, the button layout is different. It allows you to use your arms, fingers, and wrist. As a result, you are much more dextrous.

Benefit 3. Cool and Fun Factor

I treat my arcade sticks almost like trophy pieces. They look so cool. I get a lot of compliments from friends when they see my collection.

Of course, you don’t have to have a collection of arcade sticks, but even a single stick will still look pretty cool to people.

There are a lot of varieties of sticks available, and each one always has a different feel and look to them. However, a stick with quality Sanwa parts and a Korean lever is something to be admired.

What about playing them? That’s even cooler. The first time you play an arcade stick will be weird; a good kind of weird.

The audible sound a fightstick makes always gives me a great feeling when I’m playing.

It’s also a lot of fun. When I’m not playing fighting games, I always use a controller. So bringing out the fightstick for a fighting game almost feels like an event. It’s something I never get tired of.

Benefit 4. Durable

Arcade sticks are solid pieces of kit. I can’t tell you how many controllers I’ve gone through over the years. But it’s safe to say that in my 10 years of using Arcade Sticks, I’ve only ever had one breakdown on me.

That was also my fault, as I didn’t maintain it properly. However, my other sticks have faired quite well.

Most of the time. If you buy a stick with quality Japanese Sanwa parts, it’s fair to say it will last a long time.

In addition, because arcade sticks can always be customized and modded,  a fightstick can potentially last forever.

So rest assured, you can mash those buttons all you like, and it will still work, unlike a controller.

Benefit 5. Customizable

Speaking of customizing arcade sticks, that’s another benefit as well.

Arcade sticks are generally easy to modify. You can pretty much make an arcade stick out of anything. I’ve seen people make arcade sticks out of shoeboxes, VHS Players, amongst other crazy things.

Furthermore, if something rarely breaks, for example, a joystick, it can easily be replaced. Many parts are available online, meaning you can easily replace anything on your stick. And if you want to swap out a part for a better one, you can easily do that as well.

Then there’s the fightstick art. Anything you can imagine, someone will have custom faceplate art for it. And if there isn’t any, and you’re talented enough, you can even make it yourself.

The custom art will make your stick feel special and more personal. Of course, you could customize controllers as well, but, in my opinion, it doesn’t look as good, nor is it as easy.

Ok, so I know the benefits of using an arcade stick. Can I get one now?

If you’re ready to take your game to the next level, get one by all means. But be advised. As I said in the beginning, getting an arcade stick won’t instantly make you a better player, not in the short term.

As with everything, it will take a bit of practice, but the work will pay off. Unfortunately, returning to the controller doesn’t feel as good after switching to the stick.

For me, playing on a fightstick feels like the ‘right’ way. And it comes with all these added benefits.

Stay tuned for more posts.

Illustration of a smiling man with long hair and beard sitting in a gaming room with computer equipment in the background.
Mike "The Destroyer" Johnson

Bio: Mike got hooked on fight sticks after a jaw-dropping arcade visit back in high school. Since then, he's spent countless hours perfecting his moves and combos, constantly pushing himself to improve. With his relentless drive, Mike has become a force to be reckoned with in local and online tournaments. He's now dedicated to sharing his expertise and passion for fight sticks with the world. Favorite Fight Stick: Razer Panthera Evo Favorite Games: Street Fighter V, Tekken 7