It's finally here, after years of waiting Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is about to come out... oh wait, that came out last February. Well then, the next installment of the game, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, is slated for release in November and the web is abuzz with gameplay videos, screenshots and character rosters.
UMvC3 is the latest example in a trend of fighting games releasing periodical updates through store shelves rather than over-the-Internet patches. For those who don't know the franchise, Marvel vs Capcom takes popular characters from both the Marvel Universe and Capcom and lets players team them up in head-to-head 3-versus-3 battles. Fighting game enthusiasts had to wait about a decade between the second and third installments of the Marvel vs. Capcom series, but the newest offering about to hit store shelves comes out barely a year after its predecessor. The fighter isn't a wholly new game as much as it is an interface update with gameplay tweaks and some additional characters tossed in.
Street Fighter IV, another popular Capcom fighting game, is one of the best examples of this multi-version release schedule. The first game came out February 2009 at the standard price of $60. Then an update with ten new characters and balance changes, Super Street Fighter IV, was released in April 2010 at a reduced price of $40, with Capcom saying the upgrades were too substantial for download. Just this last June, Capcom then released Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, with four additional characters and more balance changes, at about $15 for download on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
SFIV sold about 3.5 million copies worldwide on both the Xbox 360 and the PS3. SSFIV sold about 1.84 million with Arcade Edition selling about 200,000 copies according to VGcharts.com.
With all of those releases and updates, the avid Street Fighter gamer could have paid around $115 for basically the same game, not including all of the alternate costume packs that could add up to an additional $15.
But this trend might not be all that new in the gaming world. Sports franchises like Madden and NCAA Basketball come out with new games annually. Fighting games have always released a new version or two through the years, but recently the games seem to be coming out at a greater frequency; UMvC2 is being released a mere eight months after the release of MvC3.
UMvC3 will cost $40, with no download upgrade available from the original. The game sports a new UI, and game balance changes (Wolverine will not longer be about to destroy entire teams). There are also 12 new confirmed characters like Doctor Strange and Iron Fist from the Marvel Universe and Capcom character like Firebrand from Ghosts‘n Goblins and Nemesis from the Resident Evil series. And I would bet in a month or so after the game is released, Capcom will offer two more playable characters for about $5 a pop, like they did with Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath for MvC3.
Of course, there will always be early adopters and who can't wait to get their hands on a new Marvel vs. Capcom no matter how quick the turnaround is. But Capcom may be teaching their patient fans to hold off on buying new games until their disc-only updates come out only a few months later.