Capcom laid out the feature set and changes that would be integrated into the long-time-coming PC port of Super Street Fighter IV (complete with the Arcade Edition patch) last week. Along with those features--including more comprehensive video options for users with low-end hardware to hit 60 frames per second online-- Capcom also revealed the game's security and anti-piracy features.
Like the release of Street Fighter IV on the PC in 2009, SSFIV: AE features Games For Windows Live support for the online functionality and requires players to be logged into a GFWL account to access the game's full functionality. Those who played SSFIV without being connected to the Internet would find the game's offline functionality to be severely limited. Capcom senior VP Christian Svensson wrote in his blog post announcement:
If you aren’t signed in to an online GFWL profile, the offline mode has limited functionality. Obviously there’s no online play, access to replay channels or other online-centric features (and this is the part that keeps the online play secure from hackers or pirates). Additionally, you won’t be able to save any progress in challenges or settings, won’t have access to any DLC you’ve purchased and all local play will be restricted to 15 of the 39 characters.
As you would imagine, the realization that an offline outage would turn SSFIV into a game with less playable characters than the original release of SSIV (15 fighters compared to the original game's 25) sent prospective players into a frenzy. Fans argued that the anti-piracy measures would directly detract from the experiences of paying customers rather than deterring piracy or (as I imagine Capcom wanted out of this system) encouraging pirates to purchase the full game to unlock the game's full content.
The response to this function-locked PC release of SSFIV was so overwhelming that Capcom has decided to scrap parts of that system. Svensson wrote on his blog that, shortly after the game launches, Capcom would release a patch that removed the character limit from offline play. Players will still be prevented from saving their progress offline, but if you're looking to just practice combos or play local games on the PC, you won't have to connect online to do it.
It's good to see a big publisher like Capcom relent on some piracy countermeasures at the request of their fans. As far as I'm concerned, the easier it for those fans to take character models and bolt them onto other fighter's animations, the better.