Despite its rich arcade pedigree, Street Fighter IV will only be officially released for home consoles and PC in the U.S., Capcom told Edge on Friday.
"At this point, it does not look like Street Fighter IV arcade machines will officially hit the U.S. arcade market," said Chris Kramer, senior director of communications and community for Capcom Entertainment.
It’s the first time that the company will not be releasing a game in the Street Fighter series proper in U.S. arcades.
Although Capcom is not releasing arcade cabinets in the U.S. on an official basis, there are some arcades that fronted the thousands of dollars needed to import the game, although Capcom has said technically, such arcades may be breaking U.S. import laws and subject to litigation.
Ultimately, the reasoning behind the decision is the current status of the arcade and the strength of the home console business, which have both changed dramatically since the first Street Fighter arrived in 1987.
"There’s not really an arcade business in the U.S. anymore. It’s sort of like an ‘amusement’ business that sometimes has arcade games in it," Kramer explained.
Street Fighter IV has been available on the considerably more active Japanese arcade market since July this year.
The title will hit U.S. Xbox 360s and PS3s on February 17, 2009. The PC version is still in the works, but will come at a later date to be announced, Kramer said.
Imported Street Fighter IV cabinets that have made it to U.S. arcades have been able to attract crowds of enthusiastic hardcore gamers. We asked if a widespread, official U.S. arcade release could help rejuvenate the arcade business.
Kramer replied, "Street Fighter IV’s a great game, but could it rejuvenate an industry that died off seven or eight years ago? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s that great. I don’t think anything by itself would be capable of revamping a whole business like that."
But U.S. arcade fighting fans shouldn’t fret too much about missing out on the arcade experience. Kramer also revealed that peripheral firm Mad Catz paid a visit to Capcom yesterday showing off "near production versions" of some arcade joysticks they’ll be producing.
"They’re awesome. I mean, really good. … really, really, really nice. You can pretty much recreate the entire experience in your home."
We expect to hear more about those in the future.