The 8Bitdo Arcade Stick for Xbox allows you to play your favorite fighting games as well as retro titles on both the Xbox Series X and Series S. Unlike other arcade sticks or fight sticks for Microsoft’s consoles, it can connect wirelessly to the Series X/S, though you need to use the included USB dongle to do so.
If you’re familiar with 8BitDo’s previous Arcade Stick for the Nintendo Switch, you’ll be right at home here as this new version sports a nearly identical design, albeit with buttons customized for Xbox. The 8Bitdo Arcade Stick for Xbox is also just as customizable as its predecessor and opening it up to swap out the buttons or change the joystick is relatively easy, even for newcomers.
Our 8Bitdo Arcade Stick for Xbox review will help you decide if this is the best fight stick for you and whether or not it’s worth upgrading to this newer model if you already own the original 8BitDo Arcade Stick.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox review: Price and availability
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox is currently available for preorder on Amazon, and will be released on June 30. It costs $120 for either the white or black version and we’ll likely see other retailers stock it as well once the pre-order period is over.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox review: Design
Which color 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox you end up picking up will likely be determined by whether you own an Xbox Series X or an Xbox Series S. While the white version features a white case with black buttons to match the Series S, the black version sports an all-black design.
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox measures 13.8 x 9.5 x 5.5 inches and 6.6 pounds, and that's relatively compact compared to other larger fight sticks designed for the Xbox Series X/S, like the Hori Fighting Stick a ($200, Amazon). It’s also cheaper and the only fight stick so far that can connect to either Xbox console wirelessly.
On the right side of the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox, you’ll find all of the face buttons and I like the fact that A, B, X and Y are color coded to match the new Xbox Wireless Controller. Above the joystick, there are the View, Share and Menu buttons and their icons also match other Xbox controllers.
On the front side of the 8Bitdo Arcade Stick for Xbox, there’s a recessed USB-C port along with a status LED to let you know that it’s charging. Speaking of which, the device takes around four hours to fully recharge and you get around 30 hours of playtime on a full charge.
Under the USB-C port, there’s a compartment that houses the 2.4 GHz wireless dongle used to connect the 8BitDo Arcade Stick to the Xbox Series X/S wirelessly. This is very useful as you won’t forget the dongle if you bring it over to a friend’s house.
For those wondering why the device can’t connect over Bluetooth, this is because Microsoft uses a proprietary technology called Xbox Wireless on all of its consoles. 8Bitdo also includes a 10 foot USB-C cable in the box for both charging and for playing over a wired connection for those really concerned about latency.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox review: Features
If you’ve ever tried to use an arcade stick or fight stick when playing games that aren’t optimized for them, then you’ll appreciate the toggle next to the Star button. You can use it to remap the joystick to work as either the left stick, D-pad or right stick on the fly, which can be super helpful. Next to this toggle, there’s another one you can use to control one of the best gaming headsets when connected to the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox’s 3.5mm audio port. It allows you to enable or disable the sound coming from your headset as well as to mute it. Below that, there’s a switch to change between arcade stick and controller mode.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s also easy to open the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox if you want to make modifications to the buttons or joystick. To make things even easier, 8BitDo has included a diagram at the bottom so you know what wires go to each of the buttons. While I haven’t switched out the buttons on my review unit, I previously did so with 8BitDo’s N30 Arcade Stick (the predecessor to the 8BitDo Arcade Stick) and it was a very straightforward process. However, a diagram similar to the one seen above would make things even easier.
Another great thing about the 8BitDo Xbox Arcade Stick is that the included wireless dongle is truly plug-and-play. You don’t need to pair the device with your Xbox console and I was happy to discover that with it connected, you can use the 8BitDo Xbox Arcade Stick to wake up your Xbox, even when it’s powered off.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox review: Performance
In addition to the Xbox Series X/S, the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox also works on PC, but not on the Nintendo Switch or Android like its predecessor. As such, I first tested it out by playing a few of the best Steam games including Downwell, Celeste and Mortal Kombat 11. When I used the included USB-C cable as well as the wireless dongle, my PC immediately recognized the device and I didn’t have to remap any of the buttons. However, with 8BitDo’s Ultimate Software for Windows, you do have the option to remap buttons as well as to customize the layout of the joystick.
After spending some time testing out the 8Bitdo Arcade Stick for Xbox on PC, I then played several games on my Xbox Series S. It worked just as well and I absolutely love how the design of the device complements that of Microsoft’s pint-sized next-gen console. I mostly played games that were available on Xbox Game Pass during testing.
Although Mortal Kombat 11, Killer Instinct and some other fighting games are on Game Pass at the moment, I really enjoyed using the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. The quick actuation of the buttons made it easy to pull off combos and it felt a lot like playing TMNT: Turtles in Time at an arcade. While I was unable to get Pac-Man Museum + to work with the device, the rest of the games I tried worked well, including some like Skate 3 which have no business being played with a fight stick in the first place.
The majority of the time I spent testing the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox was with the recently released Street Fighter 6. While I’m by no means a serious Street Fighter player, I did enjoy playing the game’s Fighting Ground mode and working my way through the individual stories for each character. It was also fun to practice some combos and get a feel for playing with the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox in the training mode.
Overall, I was very impressed by how quickly the device connected to my Xbox wirelessly and I liked being able to plug in a headset using the headphone jack at the front. The buttons have a nice feel to them and their glossy finish helps keep your fingers from slipping off.
8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox review: Verdict
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox is a welcome addition to both the current lineup of Xbox controllers as well as to the best PC game controllers. It’s relatively compact which makes it easy to take with you to play with friends and the 30 hours of battery life means that you can play for quite some time before having to charge it. I like that you can play both wired and wirelessly and the built-in slot to store the wireless dongle is a nice touch. The fact that the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox can be easily modded is another great feature even if you plan on using the fight stick in its stock orientation.
If you primarily play on the Xbox Series X/S or that’s where your friends play, then this new version of the fight stick is the one to get. However, if you prefer to play fighting games and retro ones on PC, you can save a bit by opting for the original 8BitDo Arcade Stick ($90, Amazon) instead. While the 8BitDo Arcade Stick for Xbox is more of an optional accessory than a must-have one, it’s perfect for fighting games, platformers and beat-em-ups. At $120, it’s somewhat expensive but still much cheaper than other Xbox-compatible fight sticks with the added bonus that you can use it wirelessly.