MadCatz SFIV SE FightStick Defects & Horror Stories
The internet has been abuzz with stories of broken Street Figher IV standard edition (SE) FightSticks. The problem was first reported on February 13th on the Shoryuken.com forums, a popular site for fighting game aficionados.
Released officially on February 17th in limited quantity, gamers counted themselves lucky to even score a stick. Those that did, brought their happy find back home, only to discover hours into playing their stick exhibited odd behavior, to the point of not being playable. Users reported that the controller stopped registering directional inputs or button presses, made grinding noises, or even had a "stuck" joystick. The problem was attributed to a loose metal washer scraping the printed circuit board (PCB).
Mad Catz has acknowledged the problem and are advising costumers to visit this link for repairs. They can be reached by the toll-free number 1-800-659-2287 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are offering free FedEx shipping labels for customers who wish to send in their sticks for repair. Realistically, the time to ship out the sticks, get them fixed, and shipped back might take a few weeks. So if you are a day-one purchaser who absolutely has to play the game with the official sticks, you'll have to endure the wait.
If you're planning to return the sticks to the store, be aware there has been reports that GameStop will not accept returns on this product and will ask you to contact Mad Catz directly. But getting in touch with them might not be so easy. As noted by a Shoryuken forum poster, "I called the 1-800 # 4-5 times and it just told me they were busy and I could leave a message... Calling the non-toll-free # gave me a 45 minute wait."
One possible do-it-yourself fix is to open up the stick (which voids your warranty), isolate the faulty metal washer, and glue it to the PCB; or replace it outright with a rubber washer. If problems persist, the SE sticks can be fully modified with a different joystick and buttons. Modding the stick with arcade quality Sanwa parts will bring users as close as possible to a real arcade experience, but will cost them another $50 or $60 plus time and labor, not to mention technical know-how. And for a product that retails for $79.99 plus tax, it should be expected to work out of the box, without another hefty investment.
Mad Catz Global PR & Communications Manager, Alex Verrey, responded in an interview with 1UP.com that the number of complaints they've received is "well under 50 to date." Perhaps a shocking testament to the contrary, the FightStick Defect thread on the Shoryuken forums has grown to 19 pages with over 450 replies and 40,000 page views. The problem may be more wide-spread than Mad Catz would like to admit.
For a company like Mad Catz that has been vying to turn around their negative consumer perception, it seems odd why so little attention was given by the Quality Assurance Department to ensure their much vaunted FightSticks not only meet but exceed customer expectations. With this critical misstep, Mad Catz will have an even tougher time with changing their image as a company that manufactures cheap, inferior product with no regard for quality. How true their convictions are to quality will be measured by how well and how quickly they rectify customer complaints during the rocky launch of the Street Fighter FightSticks.
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