Last weekend, Arcade1up won bragging rights at EVO when they were ones who officially got to change the #FREEMVC2 campaign to #FREEDMVC2, even going as far as to have apparel with the hashtag printed on it for staff at the event. After a brief revival in 2009 via a digital only release, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes was delisted from online stores in late 2013, meaning if you wanted to play it via a route that wasn’t emulation, you either had to already own the license for the rerelease or track down a physical copy. Thanks to Arcade1up’s latest cabinet, the seminal fighting game classic will become available to purchase once more later this year, however the form factor definitely limits the broad appeal a title like MvC2 should have. Fighting game legend Justin Wong is overseeing the cabinets production to make sure it runs as close to the arcade original, but only those with the space, money, or both will be able to experience it.
Yesterday, Game Informer, reporting from EVO, got to go hands on with the cabinet and spoke to a representative from Arcade1up who dropped some distressing news. During the interview with the outlet, the rep said “we were lucky enough to bring both parties together [Marvel and Capcom] to rerelease this one last time”, crushing the hopes that Marvel vs. Capcom 2 would come back to a format that wouldn’t cost close to $1,000 in Canada after taxes. You can watch the brief six-minute video in its entirety below.
The statement that this is the last rodeo could in fact be correct and taken at face value, but personally speaking – and with more than a dash of naivety – I think this is not the last time Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will grace storefronts. But why think this when someone from Arcade1up said the opposite? The short answer is marketing and FOMO. If it was officially announced, or even leaked, that an outlet like Digital Eclipse was working on brining MvC2 to consoles again, what incentive would someone have to spend hundred of dollars on a 3/4 scale arcade cabinet? When you casual mention that this time is the last time though, you get to push those teetering on the fence to make a purchase.
I’ll use myself for an example. Last summer, I came into some money, created space I didn’t have and bought the Marvel vs. Capcom Arcade1up machine. I absolutely adore it, and, if I had the money and a bigger apartment or a house I would most certainly have more. One such unit I wanted – aside from the Konami’s X-Men machine which I’m shocked I haven’t purchased in a fever dream – was Arcade1up’s reissue of their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cabinet. The issue though is that in Canada, it, along with X-Men, are close to $1,000 after taxes which is simply money I don’t really have.
Right in time for the holidays though, a smaller, cheaper alternative under the companies countercade line was announced that was a much easier sell at around $400 Canadian. It was limited to 2 players, but for someone who looks for local arcades when thinking about vacation destinations, it was the ideal Christmas gift. The caveat, however, is that this all went down in late 2021. Less than 3 months into the new year during a Sony State of Play presentation, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection was announced that not only had both games that were included in my shiny new countercade, but 11 more at a fraction of the price. Also, I can easily play with a friend who lives provinces away online which is something that’s not possible with my countercade. So, would I still have got that mini-arcade machine if I knew a compilation was around the corner? Well, I HAVE operated a site about comic book video games for over a decade so probably, but it would have been a much tougher sell. Presently I have 2 copies of the Cowabunga Collection on pre-order: one for PS5 and another for Switch to play on the go, and all total those were just over $100.
The other reason I feel Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will be back sooner rather than later comes down to money, because Disney, Marvel and Capcom – if they can figure out the logistics of course – will stand to make a LOT of it. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one of the most beloved fighting games of all time, and while it’s far from Capcom’s best-selling game, the 2009 digital edition still managed to move 1.4 million units across the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Die-hard lovers of the game are a lock for at least one copy, and for folks like myself with more money than sense sometimes, 2 or more. If coupled with other Marvel titles, I can’t be the only one who would pick up a version for the Nintendo Switch to play on the go plus another for a current generation device or PC. Heck, throw in a limited edition cross-platform arcade stick and I’ll get that too!
It’s not just those who are intimately familiar with MvC2, but those who have never played it. Marvel is one of the biggest brands in the world right now and people are hungry to interact with it anyway they can, whether that’s MCU programming, comics, toys, or video games. Look at many “best superhero” or “comic book game” lists on major outlets or YouTube channels and chances are MvC2 will be listed among the upper echelon. Right now though that curiosity is not translating into sales because the game isn’t available for convenient purchase anywhere.
Lets also not forgot one of the biggest games of this year so far, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a title that’s the most sincere love letter to a bygone era of arcade game design that has ever been written. Less than a month after that game’s June release, it had moved over a million units. There’s no way that those in charge of Marvel’s video game division can see those numbers and ignore them. Of course you can count myself among those who would pre-order the second I could a Shredder’s Revenge style game starring Marvel, DC, or really any comic book license, but Marvel could collaborate with Capcom to give players something they desperately want without even having to craft anything new.
Starting next month, pre-orders open for the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 Arcade1up cabinet and given the reactions on social media last weekend, you can rest assured that many units will be moved. If this is indeed MvC2’s last hurrah, I’m glad that it gets to leave on a high note with a gorgeously produced unit surrounded by some of the best comic book games ever made. Still, I’m perhaps hoping against hope that it just won’t be the financially secure who will get to be taken on a ride once more. MvC2 might be freed, but for many, it’s still just as out of reach as it has been for close of 9 years.