mechanically they are superior, built like a rock. the spring tension is perfect and axis independant. all their joysticks have hardware trim standard, and use high quality key switches in all their hats and buttons. on top of that they come with the best pieces of game profile software ive ever seen. its the stick you want to buy if you dont want to every buy another stick ever again. however, electronically they are not very advanced.
being made in the usa they probably use pic microcontrollers, and most of those come with 8-bit adcs standard (though they do sell models with 12 bit adcs). in the world of microcontrollers a high end unit is around $8. of course you dont need such an mcu for a joystick. you dont really need much memory, you could probably do without hardware multiplier, or a pin count greater than 30. a chip suitable for a joystick needs to either have native usb support, or can bit-bang out the usb protocol with the right clock rate (meaning an extra part, a 6 or 12 mhz crystal). it also needs to have a way to read analog sensors. usually you do this with the mcu's built in adc lines, one for each axis. you can run an external adc on something like 1-wire, i2c, spi, or u(s)art, which uses between 1 and 4 pins depending on interface, most mcus support at least a couple forms of serial interfaces, but this adds a part. then you need enough general purpose i/o pins left over for buttons. these can be multiplexed with a scan matrix to a number equal to row pins times column pins (for example 10 pins can support 25 buttons, 12 pins can sport 36).
such an mcu would cost less than a couple bucks (and thats not the bulk rate), but they seem to want to pick the cheapest one possible to add a few cents to their profits. i built a 10 bit wireless serial joystick for $15 in parts (mcu, crystal, voltage regulator, ask transmitter and receiver modules, some signal diodes, an opamp, some pots and some caps/resistors), an arduino i had lying around (used this for the receiver and computer interface) and some junk i had laying around. it was hella accurate, though mechanically its inferior to the ch hardware. so im putting some serious thought into a ch stick mod to increase sampling rate and resolution. still need to learn how to bitbang usb, or i may use bluetooth modules for wireless, but thats pricey.