Street Fighter IV: an arcade grail in the making

In the arcade collector’s community, a game that is very rare or hard to come by is considered a “grail”, and people get fanatical about finding and owning them. Games like Major Havoc are classic grails, and can sell for $2,000 (or higher) at auction or on the private market, depending on their condition and how many original parts are full intact. Now, it seems like Street Fighter IV is going to be mighty scarce here in the United States, as Capcom hasn’t officially released the game here, and getting one is a major runaround. Stephen Totilo of MTV Games’ Multiplayer blog did some digging and found that in order to get one, you gotta have a lot of cash and even more determination and patience. From his article he says…

…the average gamer probably could” get one — if they can navigate the following hurdles:

1) Spend A Lot Of Money: Capcom won’t divulge the price. All I could find out is that the 2,349,400 Yen cost I found on a website from March is a re-seller’s price. Capcom is selling for less. But considering that re-seller price amounts to $21,802, I guess we’re talking about an actual price that is still greater than what I usually spend on a PS3, a year’s supply of socks or a honeymoon.

2) Buy In Bulk: Want a “Street Fighter IV” arcade cabinet? Too bad, you can’t get one. You have to get four of them. So be ready to write a really big check. Capcom won’t take orders for single units. The company requires a purchase of four units of “Street Fighter IV.” I wonder how many “Street Fighter V” units they’ll require when that game comes out? (Apparently Bungie Studios inquired about buying one — but do even they have money for four?)

3) Live In Japan: Capcom isn’t selling “SFIV” arcade cabinets in the U.S. yet. So how is the game already in some American arcades? It appears that U.S. arcade-owners have imported their units, in some cases just having imported the boards and stuck them into non-”SFIV” cabinets. The units in the U.S. now are gray-market and not approved by Capcom.

4) Wait: Capcom U.S. pr man Chris Kramer tells me that there’s no official date for when the “”SFIV” cabinets will ship to the U.S. But the company wants to make it happen. “We’re still talking with a few people here, but the arcade business outside of Japan is tough,” he told me today. “There are at least two companies seriously interested in purchasing ‘SFIV’ machines from us, but no done deals at the moment.”

It sounds like if these beauties make it over here in any sort of significant number (doubtful) that the operators are going to be reluctant to take them off their routes any time soon. In order to recoup their costs, they’re going to need the game to eat up quarters for quite some time. And when these games finally do start making their way into the private collections across the country, they are going to be extremely costly as demand will most definitely outpace supply on a permanent basis. At least we know the game will be coming to the 360 and PS3 at a reasonable and affordable price…

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