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Arcade sticks are controllers that gamers use mostly for fighting games. The controls on them are similar to the ones that arcade games had, therefore, the name. Made durable so they can take intense gaming action. Generally, arcade sticks are from a higher price point.
Also known as an 'arcade controller', the arcade stick is a hardware interface that has a joystick and push buttons; similar to the arcade games from the late 70s. Today it is used less as trackpads, steering wheels and game console controllers are more common. One of the markers of an authentic arcade stick is its build. It is expected that these will be used roughly. The low-cost ones are not as hardy and can often go bad. More often used by gamers who are big on fighting games.
There is much debate among seasoned players of fighting games and most agree that the arcade stick gives a player a lot more versatility. Some moves require multiple buttons to be held down and this is just easier on the arcade stick. Also, button-mashing is a lot more fun on the arcade stick and it can take the more aggressive mashing.
Arcade sticks can be a lot of fun to use generally as well, with the feeling of being in a gaming arcade. Some of the best arcade sticks are produced by Razer, Qanba and Hori. Arcade sticks are relatively expensive device given the quality of build they adhere to, which is much needed so it doesn't break apart during fierce gaming.