In a recent interview with Yoshinori Ono from GameReactor (thanks to HeartofBattle for the YouTube version), Ono mentions that there will be no arcade release for Super Street Fighter 4. Even though there is the possibility that something got lost in translation, this has obviously sparked a lot of debate across message boards on what this means for the future of the game and also the future of arcades.
There seems to be two sides to the argument at this point: those who want an arcade release and those who don't care. Both sides have some valid points and I'll try to list as many as possible here.
Those who want an arcade release:
- Without an arcade release we wont see high level play from Japanese players considering most Japanese players only play in arcades.
- There wont be widespread testing of the game to find possible bugs/glitches/imbalances before the console release.
- We lose the arcade atmosphere here in North America where high-level strategies are exchanged and a lot of our own top players are bred.
- Could be a huge blow to some arcades and also arcade only tournaments such as Super Battle Opera.
Those who don't care about an arcade release:
- A full console release means that everyone, not just those who are close to an arcade or go to Japan will be able to play this game the day it comes out.
- Who cares if the Japanese wont play it? It wont stop our top players for playing it and wont put an end to competitive play in the states anyway.
- This is a harsh reality -- get used to it along with online play and online tournaments becoming more and more accepted.
- Immediate access to training mode will allow players to more quickly find new combos and strategies since they can sit there for as long as they would like testing different aspects of the game.
So as you see, on paper, it would seem that an arcade release is of less importance to most players, especially those in the states, than getting a console release as soon as possible. Personally, I just keep asking myself: why cant we have both? Since this isn't a complete overhaul of the game and is essentially using the same hardware that Street Fighter 4 came out on, one would think that making an arcade update along side 360 and PS3 version wouldn't be that hard.
One thing I have thought about is this may not be the final version of Street Fighter 4 and CAPCOM may wait until the final version of the game before making a proper arcade release. In the past, virtually all the Street Fighter games received more than one overhaul -- just look at Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III. This is probably just wishful thinking on my part though.
At the end of the day I am an arcade player. I like going to the arcade whenever I can to meet new people and play against those who I haven't played yet. Some will argue that online offers that same experience but it's just not true. Playing Street Fighter online to me feels like I am almost playing a completely different version of the game compared to local or arcade matches.
There is an emotional aspect to all of this as well because I cant help but look back at the magic that was Street Fighter 4 when it first showed up in arcades here in California. San Francisco State was the first arcade in my area to get the game and I was there day one. There was a small tight knit group of us who would show up 2-4 times a week to play and figure out new strategies and combos. Fast forward 4-6 months and I see myself going down to California Regionals at Denjin Arcade with MAGUS1234 for one of the largest Street Fighter 4 tournaments yet. Even SBO Quals at Denjin Arcade was an arcade only Street Fighter 4 tournament and was one of the most memorable tournaments I have been to.
Looking forward, without an arcade release in Japan, going to Japan next year for Super Battle Opera may not even be a factor if the main game that I play and enjoy is not even a factor out there. Also, further down the line, this could be a huge blow to Super Battle Opera if they decide to continue to be the largest arcade only tournament in the world.
Of course my own personal experiences with Street Fighter 4 are fairly meaningless to the majority of people who play this game and just want the new release as soon as possible. Still, It still saddens me that we wont have any time to enjoy the game in an arcade atmosphere.
So what do our readers think? Is a console-only release the way to go or is not having an arcade release of the game a huge slap in the face to arcade owners and players who continue to support the arcade scene?