Sony’s PlayStation can be seen as a revolutionary console, completely changing the video game console market from Nintendo’s domination and the age of using cartridges. Ironically, the PlayStation was developed from early designs drawn up between Sony and Nintendo. The system debuts in the line of PlayStation consoles which still dominate the market today and stands as the first computer entertainment platform to ship 100 million units a whopping 9 years and 6 months after initial release. Production only ended of this esteemed system in 2006, which was less than a year before the third home console in the series, the PS3, was announced.

Development of the PlayStation can trace back as early as the mid-eighties when Nintendo approached Sony to produce a CD addition to the SNES, which was to be called the Play Station or the SNES-CD. However, the contract was torn up and work scrapped only hours before the announcement of this product. This was due to two main reasons, the first was due to the contact between the two companies secretly working for both, leading to Sony letting him go. Furthermore, the president of Nintendo reviewed the contract signed by both parties and it was clear that Sony held the most powerful position. Thereby, on the morning on announcing the Play Station, Nintendo pulled out of the Sony contract to, instead, team up with tech-giant Phillips.

Initially after their dealings with Nintendo, Sony turned to Sega to co-create a gaming console, who turned down the suggestion as they didn’t believe that Sony could not develop suitable hardware. Sony then decided that they would create a SNES compatible though Sony-branded console. The plans were to make this console more of an entertainment system by utilising both cartridge and CD capability. As the company had chosen to develop this system under the name Play Station, Nintendo intended to sue. This was denied in court though Sony did allow them some say in the console.

Further deals were discussed between the two companies, and in 1992 Nintendo allowed Sony the rights to use ports of SNES games in the new console if they were to own the rights to the games and receive the bulk of the profit. Though less than a year after this agreement technology had developed so far that the SNES port was dropped and to end Nintendo’s say in the console the name was changed from Play Station to PlayStation. The newly branded system faced many different options in which direction it was going to take. One of those decisions was whether the console would feature 2D or 3D graphics. The story goes that after seeing Virtua Fighter in Japanese arcades Sony knew that their console had to feature the more modern 3D graphics.

The PlayStation proved to be a huge success, being an immediate hit in the Japanese market launch, selling over 2 million units in the first six months. The console also had further triumph with game developers. More companies seemed to be more willing to produce games for a console that used CD’s and this was a cheaper option that gave them more freedom. Some companies even went as far as making themselves PlayStation exclusive, with other developers generally producing more games for them rather than the N64. Because of this, the console is said to be the reason why games cartridges were phased out by other companies. By having CD drive, it made the PlayStation more modern and advanced than other systems, as it had a build in CD player, and an exclusive video CD function in some Asian models of the console.

Sony also streamlined game production through programming libraries which were constantly being updated online. Due to e high quantity of games produced for the system because of the CD format, as of 2007 – 7,918 games had been released worldwide for the system.

One negative side of the having a CD format was that people begun to burn CD’s and copy games. However, to prevent this from happening, Sony added a ‘wobble’ to the back of the games so that the console could detect an authentic game from a copied game.

The PlayStation featured few peripherals, which included: memory cards, a mouse, a joystick, a light-gun and a head-mounted display. Other models of the consoles include the PSone which was a slimmer, redesigned PlayStation.

The PlayStation proved itself to be one of the forerunners of modern video gaming, and by the late 90s was the clear market leader. Even beating the likes of Nintendo and Sega who has previously dominated the market and underestimated Sony’s ability to create a worthwhile video game console. The system was such a success it still dominates the gaming market, with a whole range of products. Its successors include the PlayStation2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PSP and PS Vita. With more recent additions including a PlayStation Pro and a PlayStation VR headset.

Back to blog
1 of 3