Think you're a real champ at “Super Street Fighter 4
”? How about “Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition”? Well, if you've got the chops to take on the greats, you too can put your money where your mouth is thanks to a new partnership between Capcom and Virgin Gaming
that will allow for cash-backed matches to take place.
The reports indicate that console gamers get the brunt of this effect, with both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
versions having the online money match capability, and there's no word as yet as to when the PC gaming crowd will be able to get in on the action. Players will be able to either fight it out one-on-one or set up complete fighting leagues of as many as 32 players. Those interested in putting cash on the fight, meanwhile, will go through Virgin Gaming's website into the “Street Fighter 4” lobby, then enter an opponent's gamertag to set up a match. Winnings are automatically deposited to accounts, and can from there be transferred to a bank account or used as a means to place further bets.
What's more, Virgin Gaming can also make matches based on geographic location or comparative latency so those with better Internet connections don't automatically dominate their peers with slower speeds. There's even a skill rating system so as to keep matches fairly even. Since “Street Fighter” games are more games of skill than of chance, some have suggested that this may keep such match-ups out of legal issues.
It's an interesting concept no matter how it's considered; using the lure of real-money bouts to keep players interested may do pretty well indeed. In fact, this might be a big part of the action in terms of keeping e-sports moving along. The thought that people could effectively build their own fighting leagues and compete for cash—potentially even broadcasting the results of said matches via Twitch or the like—isn't a bad idea at all in terms of building interest in e-sports. It would be as though everyone could build their own WWE or the like, showing matches and drawing interest throughout the Web.
It's certainly not out of line to suggest that something like this might happen, someday. Is it a good thing? Well, it certainly draws interest in gaming, and that's hard to pass up. What happens when gaming becomes the new gladiatorial bloodsport of our era, and instead of throwing Celts and Gauls into the various online ludi out there, we throw our avatars into battle instead, and all the folks out there watch as gamers tear each others' characters to shreds.
Is bloodsport immoral when those who engage in it never really existed?
It's the kind of thing that raises some significant issues and requires careful consideration to really reach a proper conclusion. It could be a big deal—it could be our next big source of entertainment—but it could also do more harm than good in the long run. Still, the point remains; for now, those who want to pit their skills against one another, with a cash prize at stake, will be able to do so. Whether that will continue to be the case for long, meanwhile, remains to be seen.