Capcom has partnered with Virgin Gaming to make Street Fighter 4 online money matches a reality.
Right now the supported platforms are the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Super Street Fighter 4 and Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition. There's no mention of PC.
The game modes included are 1v1 head to head, as you'd expect, and leagues of up to 32 players.
This is how it works. You challenge another player on the Virgin Gaming website via the SSF4 head-to-head lobby. Once the challenge is accepted, the player who created the challenge selects a two-player Endless Battle in the game with the settings agreed upon when setting up the challenge.
Then, once the lobby is created, the host invites the other player, inserting their Gamertag (if you're on Xbox 360) as seen on the match card on Virgin Gaming's website. The opponent has to accept the invite. Then, after picking characters, the match begins.
After it's finished, head back to Virgin Gaming's website and verify the result. You're encouraged to upload an image to your Battle Log match result to help this along (you can use your phone's camera), and you can save your replay in-game. Your winnings get deposited directly into your cashier so you can wager again to win more cash, or withdraw.
There are some obvious concerns with the process. Virgin Gaming has a regional matchmaking process to reduce latency. You can issue challenges to players who are near to you, but lag will always play a part in any online match.
Then there's the issue of fair play. Virgin Gaming uses a skill rating system to help people find opponents of similar abilities. Also, tournaments are gated by skill rating. But it's something of a roll of the dice when it comes to matchmaking - you never really know how good your opponent is. There's also a user-rating system, which hopefully will weed out cheaters.
"As a child of the arcade era, there was something special about each win I'd earn while on the Street Fighter 2 cabinet," wrote Capcom's Peter Rosas, aka ComboFiend, on the Capcom Unity website.
"Since each game was pay to play, every win felt that much more euphoric as I watched my defeated opponent have to pony up more money, whereas each loss stung that much more as I felt my pockets running out of coins. Essentially something more than pride was on the line each game, and that made everyone play all that much harder. With the advent of free online play, it's been difficult putting something on the line other than pride... UNTIL NOW."