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They made “X” (into) a character is a way to announce that something that wasn’t done before, or a previously non-playable character from any franchise who was an NPC into a playable character, usually in a multi-franchise game with cameos like Super Smash Bros, Marvel Vs. Capcom, and etc.
There is no specific time of origin, but can often be seen in games such as Capcom Vs. SNK. When they made a Mars Person a playable fighter character, when in Metal Slug it was only an in-game enemy.
It spread around the time in the 2000s when characters would be placed in games with roles they did not previously have, and while some characters may have been playable characters before, it also refers to when a character that may or may not have been expected, is made into a playable character in a game that either did not have them before, or they were NPCs in previous games and given bigger roles in later games.
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