Street Fighter is one of the best known and easily identifiable franchises in the gaming industry, let alone for fighting games. It holds history as one of the first major arcade fighting-game successes, has a main character about as identifiable as Mario or Master Chief, and boasts an absolutely terrible movie featuring Raul Julia (who was awesome). It's for all those reasons and more that Super Street Fighter 4 is a necessity for the gaming industry, let alone mainstream gamers.
It seems like a pretty sensationalist statement, but how many other games actively search for ways to be more fan driven? How many try to encourage tournaments between friends or try to bridge the distance gap in game communities? Few companies have gone as far as Capcom in making a solid multiplayer experience, let alone a decent fighting game and while the Street Fighter series may not be for everyone (I personally prefer Guilty Gear) it cannot be denied that some aspects of Super Street Fighter 4 should be universal to all other fighting game titles.
If gaming today is all about the community that is formed and drives sales then more companies should be willing to put forth the effort in keeping these communities happy. Yes, developers will have to charge for the work they do, but isn't that acceptable as long as the work is something that fans will love? What kind of message does releasing a game with poor netcode send, let alone having multiplayer that is buggy and unplayable? Most gamers understand that the first week of a game's launch is going to be filled with issues, but anything beyond that is like a spit in the face of the consumer.
It's already been a strong message that any game that hopes to provide a fun online experience but fails to take any time in generating a stable connection will be ignored even by the most loyal of fans. King of Fighters XII saw extremely poor sales, and Tekken 6 could of seen a similar fate if not for a speedy patch from Namco Bandai. But the bar needs to be set higher, especially for the fighting game genre. There's no reason to leave out detailed tournament modes, or a game lobby for spectator matches. Grenades, weapon attachments and limited character customization are becoming a staple for FPS games and these types of options should be guaranteed in every single fighting game.
But it's not just the fighting game genre that needs Super Street Fighter 4 as a competitor to set the bar, but rather any game boasting large scale multiplayer. Make every dollar spent count in the updates we receive, the content we obtain and the options that are expanded. DLC today is plagued with minor updates meant to nickel-and-dime players. Some maps here, character options there, and players find themselves shelling out more money for a few slim options that aren't even crossed over into the next iteration of the game. There are still some flaws with the sales model of Super Street Fighter 4, such as why none of the implemented character balances were even given in a patch format. But perhaps that has more to do with the traditions that lie within the fighting game genre still, rather then an aggressive attempt to make fans waste money.
As an overall package though, there is little to complain about. Ideally other competitive titles such as Blazblue and King of Fighters will take note of the way Capcom is doing things, and put out products to match in detail. Even better would be if major FPS titles tossed out the smaller 'map pack' model for something that had much more value and expansiveness to it. We can only hope. But for now it's at least good to know that one company out there is providing fighting game fans with a decent experience.