Fightstick vs Fightpad – which one should you get?

Fightstick or Fightpad? Its a question I struggled with many years ago when I wanted to switch from an Xbox 360 controller to play Street Fighter IV.

They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but which one is better? Which one should you own over the other and invest your precious time in?

This article will explain what each controller is and why you should use it. I will also list the pros and cons so you can make a fair comparison between the two controllers.

Finally, I will end by making my own personal recommendation. Read on my friend.

What is a Fightstick?

Fightsticks are video game controllers which are mostly used to play fighting games.

They usually consist of a joystick and buttons and are designed to replicate the traditional arcade cabinet but in a more portable home environment.

The price of a fightstick varies from $30 for a basic stick with cheaper quality parts, to $200 for a premium stick with Japenese Sanwa or Semitsu joystick and buttons.

Fightsticks come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and designs.

Why should you use a fightstick?

There are many reasons. One maybe nostalgia. If you grew up playing a fighting game in the arcade then this is perhaps the closest way to replicating the feel of an arcade cabinet.

Another reason is execution. A decent fightstick, with quality parts, will have mechanical Sanwa buttons that provide a great deal of accuracy and precision when pressed, compared to a Fightpad.

In addition, having the buttons laid out in front of you means your inputs will be cleaner and motion, easier to do.

Finally, most fightsticks can also be modded with different joysticks/levers, buttons and artwork. These modifications are often fairly simple to do.

Pros and cons of a fightstick


  • A fightstick provides good execution for a range of motions
  • Can be modified quite easily compared to a Fightpad
  • Nostalgia for Arcade lovers
  • Decent quality sticks can last a long time
  • Better for Muscle Memory  


  • Can be expensive
  • Requires a learning curve, especially for those not familiar with Arcade Sticks
  • Can get loud when hitting the buttons
  • Fightsticks are bulkier than Fightpads, so are not good for portability.

What is a Fightpad?

Fightpads are the middle ground between a traditional controller and a fightstick.

They look pretty similar to a default controller except for the additional face buttons making it a six button layout. This makes it easier to access all of the buttons, which you would use to do moves, with your fingers or thumb.

The price of a Fightpad can range from $20 to $50 making it more reasonable than a fightstick.

Why should you use a Fightpad?

Aside from the cheaper price tag, there are a few reasons why you might want to use A Fightpad over a Fightstick.

Firstly, because a Fightpad is closer to a traditional controller, in terms of look and feel, it’s considered easier to learn than a Fightstick. This means you don’t have to spend an awful lot of time on a Fightpad before you get good.

Second, the D-pad allows for better execution of certain moves, even more than a Fightstick, in some cases. For instance, it’s easier to pull off a Shoryuken on a Fightpad because of the lack of wiggle on a D-pad.

Pros and cons of a Fightpad


  • A cheaper alternative to a fightstick
  • Less of a learning curve.
  • More durable than a default controller
  • Can also be used for non-fighting games
  • Comfortable for Claw or Crab grip users
  • Portable and compact


  • Harder to execute certain moves
  • Less tactile than a fightstick
  • Potentially less reliable than a fightstick
  • Lack of mechanical parts means button or D-pad may feel mushy
  • Less comfortable for longer gaming sessions

Which one should you get?

Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, as I’ve just listed.

A lot of it comes down to personal preference. But you might ask, how do I know which one I prefer if I’ve never used them? Let me explain a bit deeper.

My personal preference – and this should come as no surprise looking at the name of this site –  is a fightstick.

In the long run, a fightstick has the advantage of providing better execution and accuracy. In addition, I’ve almost never had a fightstick (a good quality one) break down on me. Even if this happens, I can easily repair it as a fightstick can be modded and parts are abundant.

So that means A fightstick is better right? Well… depends. I actually still use a Fightpad from time to time, for example in Mortal Kombat and Injustice. I just find pulling off moves and combos more comfortable using a Fightpad as opposed to a Fightstick in these games. This is my personal preference, some might find using a Fightstick more comfortable for these games.

Still confused as to which one to get? Here’s my advice. If money is a factor, then, starting out, get a Fightpad. You can get one for as little as $20 so it’s not a huge investment.

After you get good, then think about switching to a fightstick. If you think you’re good enough and don’t need a fightstick, then stick with the Fightpad.

Nowadays there are really good pad players that compete on a pro level. Games like Street Fighter V are more Fightpad friendly, so you don’t have to get a Fightstick if you don’t feel comfortable.

If, eventually, you do decide to go for a fightstick, buy a decent quality one. Try to avoid skimping out and buying a cheap fightstick. If you do have to buy a cheap one, swap out the parts for a good quality joystick and buttons.