Last year, I bought the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for use on Switch and Steam Deck, and it was my first ever arcade stick purchase. I ended up loving it, and went down the rabbit hole with modding, looking at more sticks, adapters to use sticks on PS5 and Xbox, and more. Since then, 8BitDo released a new Arcade Stick for Xbox consoles. While I did have the Wingman XB 2 from Brook to use any controller or stick on my Xbox Series X, I played too much Street fighter 6 and The King of Fighters XV, so I wanted a dedicated arcade stick for Xbox.
After looking into arcade sticks for Xbox, I learned that there aren’t too many new ones, but I was curious about 8BitDo’s new stick (the 2023 model) for Xbox, and whether it made more sense to buy that over the Switch version, which is simply titled the 8BitDo Arcade Stick. In this feature, I’m going to cover what I like and dislike about both 8BitDo Arcade Stick models, which one you should buy, ease of modding, and a lot more. While neither of these are officially supported for iOS and Android, this is something that will help Switch, Steam Deck, and even Xbox players who want to play fighting games and arcade games. Hopefully 8BitDo can make them compatible like they did with other controllers a little while ago.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Switch vs Xbox – features and ports
Before getting into the differences between the two arcade sticks, both have similar buttons and a stick, great battery life, a nice heft to them while resting on your lap, and support for platform-specific stuff (stick dependent). The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Switch (8BitDo Arcade Stick henceforth), supports Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Steam (including Steam Deck). It has support for bluetooth, 2.4GHz wireless, and wired connections. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick has its own dongle included in a nice conveniently placed slot in the front with its own cover, and that’s where the USB-C port is for charging and wired connection.
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox only supports 2.4GHz wireless with its dongle and a wired connection. There is no bluetooth support on this one. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox has an open USB-C port which is more convenient than the one included in the Switch stick, and a headphone jack.
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick has macro buttons you can map using 8BitDo’s software while the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox has the top right buttons as left stick and right stick presses. Both sticks are easy to mod, but the Xbox stick has one big caveat which may or may not matter to you.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Switch vs Xbox – ease of modding
I used Sanwa buttons I bought from Arcade Shock on both the 8BitDo Arcade Stick and the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox. The default buttons are fine, but since I was getting into using arcade sticks, I figured I’d also use this as a learning opportunity to see how easy or difficult it is to replace the stock parts with high quality Sanwa buttons and a stick with its own ball top. I’d need a dedicated article to go into how I modded everything, but the video I used (from Briar Rabbit) as a tutorial is worth watching if you’re thinking of modding your 8BitDo Arcade Stick. Both the 8BitDo Arcade Stick and the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox are very easy to mod when it comes to the buttons. Everything is plug and play and the buttons pop out. There is no soldering required for these.
For replacing the stick, things are a bit more complicated. On the Xbox side, you need to either solder or buy a special cable that seems to only be available on Etsy right now from here. OmniArcade, the seller, has been a name I’ve seen recommended quite a bit for the various arcade stick mods, so I ordered this for my 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox.
On the older 8BitDo Arcade Stick, you can just grab a cable off Amazon like this one, and use the usual Sanwa sticks. If you’re curious about whether this whole modding affair is required, the answer is no. If you just want to dip your toes into the world of arcade sticks for Switch, Steam Deck, Windows, or Xbox, both 8BitDo Arcade Sticks are great value for their prices all things considered.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Switch vs Xbox – compatibility
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick works on Switch, Steam, and Windows over bluetooth or wired or 2.4GHz. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox only works on Xbox consoles and Windows 10 and later. I assumed that since the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox works on Windows, it would also work on Steam Deck. I was wrong. I spent an hour using different USB hubs, dongles, the Brook converter I use on Xbox, and more with no luck. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox just didn’t work on Steam Deck. This has also been echoed in reddit posts where people tried and some even got a response from 8BitDo support that this Xbox stick was a collaboration product implying it wouldn’t get support later. Hopefully Valve can manually add support for the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox on Steam Deck in the future.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Switch vs Xbox – price
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is priced at $89.99 while the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox is priced at $119.99. The big bump in price for the latter was likely for the Xbox wireless support and the branding. It is disappointing though given the downgrade in other areas.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Switch vs Xbox – which is the best budget arcade stick in 2023?
If you are planning to buy a stick for Xbox and want a wireless option, the price increase for the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox will likely be worth it for you. Just keep in mind the caveat about bluetooth support and less compatibility. Those might not matter if you just want this for Xbox though like I did. If you want a more flexible arcade stick with better support and easier modding, the 8BitDo Arcade Stick (for Switch) is the way to go. It works without issues on Switch and Steam Deck.
Right now, unless you value the wireless option on Xbox or headphone jack above everything else, there’s no reason I’d recommend the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox over the older 8BitDo Arcade Stick model. The latter has more features, is cheaper, better modding support, and even supports more devices. If you do prefer the look of the Xbox stick, that’s another matter.
Amazon Link: 8BitDo Arcade Stick
Amazon Link: 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox
I know a lot of folks interested in the 8BitDo Arcade Sticks are curious about the differences between both models, so I hope this comparison review and feature helped you out. If you have any questions about specific parts of both sticks or what I used to mod them, let me know in the comments below. Let us know if you’d like us to cover more hardware like this in the future as well.
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