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Arcade1Up talks MvC2, Marvel and Capcom working together again and CvS2 revival

Posted by Jon 'Catalyst' Grey • August 16, 2022 at 8:01 p.m. PDT • Comments: 39

Arcade1Up cabinets have become the gold standard for retro fighting game players hoping to replicate most of the look and feel of old school arcade games in our community. We recently got the chance to speak with John Diamonon, the Senior Vice President of Licensing and Business Development, at the company.

He walked us through what fans can expect from the new Marvel vs. Capcom 2 arcade cabinet, along with his thoughts on Marvel and Capcom working together again on a new game in the franchise, along with a potential Capcom vs. SNK 2 revival, and quite a bit more.

Catalyst: Do you think you'll do more fighting game cabinets in the future?

John Diamonon: After Marvel vs. Capcom 2, yes. We still have a lot of cabinets that we'd like to recreate, some good IPs that we still haven't used, but I think every year we'll have at least a couple of versions of a new arcade cabinet. We have this product called the Legacy Collection, whether it's the Capcom, Midway, Namco or Atari Collection. For the Capcom and Midway collection, they likely always have three Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter games, plus filling them out with other styles of genres, to make the 14 game list.

We can expect that more and that every year we change it. We could possibly do a Street Fighter 3 or Alpha in the future. We'll always be involved with it because we want to grow a retro fighting game community. That's important to us. So expect at least two fighting games, if not more.

Catalyst: Do you work with companies on the game selection process? How does that process work?

John Diamonon: Yeah, we used to get some master license for most of their arcade games, and then what we do is we have a roadmap where we pick certain games, sometimes according to what marketing activities the publisher has. For example, if there's a Pac-Man 40th anniversary, we'll highlight that cabinet featuring that game plus other games.

This year is Pong's 50th anniversary, we're planning on doing something there possibly. In terms of the game selection, we use market research, we talk to the fans to get feedback to come up with a game list and then we get that approved from the license.

Catalyst: What has it been like working with Marvel on re-releasing these fighting game cabinets?

John Diamonon: Marvel has been extremely happy. I know the Marvel games team really focuses on the newest games and best games, but they also focus on fans with the retro tastes. So when we first released our cabinet, I think it was Marvel Super Heroes. When they saw the success of that, they were really excited about it, because they weren't using these IPs in the past. So when they saw how we recreated it, we worked with Justin Wong for the emulation. When you play these games online you see we did a really good job with removing a lot of the input lag, not just the regular input lag with the cabinet, but the input lag with playing online.

So Marvel's been really happy that we’ve finally been able to bring Marvel vs. Capcom 2 back from the hiatus it has been on.

There's a big #FreeMvC2 campaign that Maximilian started almost a year ago today, and that gained so much momentum, and of course, everyone including Marvel and Capcom heard loud cries from the fans, and I think they're both happy that we did it justice.

Catalyst: How do you feel about the possibilities of Capcom and Marvel working together in the future?

John Diamonon: Well, I can't speak on behalf of Marvel and Capcom, I no longer am working at Capcom. I used to work there for 11 years and also was the brand manager from the Capcom and Marvel IP since 2008.

What I'll say is that there were a lot of challenges to get the two groups to really agree to bring this back, and it could be for political reasons. Realistically, Capcom is focused on Street Fighter 6, and they're putting all their resources into that to make it their key fighting game.

They have a big eSports initiative and throwing in a possible new Marvel vs. Capcom game, you'd have to figure if it were to happen, it would take years, right? Also, Marvel may have their own fighting game that they are developing for, but I don't know this for sure.

There's always been rumors, but just for the two facts alone, if it were to happen, I couldn't see that happening for a long time. Now, can anything happen? Of course, anything is possible. But if Marvel does in fact have a partner, and if Capcom is in fact, really focusing on the Street Fighter franchise, I just don't see it happening for a very long time, if at all.

Catalyst: You were part of the team that negotiated with Capcom initially, to help Marvel vs. Capcom 2 get re-released, and then Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to get green-lit. Can you talk about that process?

John Diamonon: I was part of the marketing at a time for Marvel vs. Capcom 2 to be released. I went to Marvel and Capcom, I think this was pre-Disney merger, or just during that time Capcom and Marvel had basically stopped working together, but I was instrumental in bringing Marvel and Capcom back to the table to bring back Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

Yeah, the thing is Marvel and Capcom are friends. They actually have a lot of people from Capcom fighting games working for Marvel. So it's a very friendly relationship, but I was basically helping negotiate those contracts and helping them get back together.

A lot of my friends from Marvel were my best friends, and they were telling me, “Hey, we need to get a deal done, or else this is going to go somewhere else.” It’s also kind of how Marvel Infinite came back and was released, I think we re-released Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Catalyst: How happy has your company been with the performance of the fighting game cabinets you've produced so far?

John Diamonon: We've been extremely happy. I mean, even in the first wave, we didn't think Street Fighter was going to be the best selling cabinet, we thought that would be Pac-Man. Pac-Man overall is our number one seller. The fighting game community really supports what we're doing because we're bringing back that old school arcade feel. Now you can have Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat or Killer Instinct cabinets. Yeah, they've been very supportive.

Catalyst: Do you remember any particularly challenging moments when it came to replicating or emulating fighting games?

John Diamonon: Killer Instinct was a really tough one for us, and it's because it requires a little bit more powerful hardware than what we have currently in our system.

So we always have to look at chipsets that can handle that on the emulation side, that was really a tough one. We work with Code Mystics, who did another version of the Killer Instinct cabinet.

So what we do is also look for developers who have developed these games and emulated them before. I would say that NBA Jam was a tough emulation project because we also had to change the code to make sure that some characters aren't available, because they were not a part of the NBA retired player association.

I think the biggest challenge is adding online capabilities to games that have never been online before. We always use rollback code, never input delay, and we run it peer-to-peer so it's even better.

Catalyst: Have you had any trouble with the encryption on the old ROMs and stuff of that nature? The CPS2 ROMs had some some hardcore encryption for that system.

John Diamonon: Yes, and that's why you still don't see a perfectly emulated Marvel vs Capcom 2 game. Luckily we've been able to look at the different emulators that are out there. See what the advantages and disadvantages are, see if there's a lot of dropped inputs. We look into that technology. It's really just kind of taking what's out there and optimizing it. But in terms of encryption, that's definitely been an issue.

Catalyst: How about the possibility of bringing back Capcom vs. SNK 2?

John Diamonon: Again, I can't really say a lot, but I will tell you that when I was at Capcom, I worked a lot with SNK trying to bring back CvS2.

Back during that time it didn't happen, but we would love to see the return of CvS2. I think the next hashtag and let's start that now, is #FreeCvS2. My big vision for this, if it were to happen, is to whomever's working on the development for CvS2, whether it's internal or external, I'd like to be a part of the infrastructure.

The online infrastructure there would be my dream for an Arcade1Up CvS2 cabinet, which includes a lot of SNK games and a lot of Capcom games in one cabinet, so that you can also play online with the other consoles, that would be my dream.

Catalyst: Tell us more about the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 Arcade1Up cabinet.

John Diamonon: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 pre-order will be up on September 8th. Please follow our social media channels on Twitter and Facebook. We have a notify me button on our website. So make sure you press that because that will allow you to be the first people to pre-order the game.

This game is at $599 USD, it has eight games, all the Marvel vs. Capcom titles. All the Capcom developed Marvel games. Even two SNES games that we threw in there. We’re really happy to finally free Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for the rest of the public.

You can find additional details about the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 Arcade1Up cabinet here.

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