Never before has the collapse of a joint venture lead to something so innovative and groundbreaking. On this day in 1994, Sony launched the Playstation in Japan; whilst we didn’t get the hardware until almost a year later, today is the system’s actual birthday. So, let’s all raise our glasses and toast one of, if not the, most important advances in home computing.
It was back in the late 80’s, after Sony and Phillips had developed the CD-ROM XA, that Nintendo approached Sony to create a CD-ROM add-on to their already popular system – SNES. The deal was struck thanks to previous joint ventures set up by Ken Kutaragi and the new console – SNES CD (or SNES CD-ROM) – was due to be revealed in 1991. Things turned sour before this unveiling, however. It’s fair to say that what Sony had included in the contract between the two companies was a bit greedy. In short, the deal meant that Sony would have had full control over all titles that were developed for the SNES CD-ROM format. Nintendo didn’t like this idea and pulled out of all dealings with Sony at the last minute before revealing a new relationship with Phillips.
This was the point in history when the PlayStation (as we know it) began. Rather than abandonning their work, Sony decided to release the hardware as its own; the Play Station…that is not a writing error, i’ll come back to that. Nintendo tried to stop Sony’s plans by filing an injunction against the rival company due to the fact that they owned the rights to the name ‘Play Station’. This was not successful and everything began to gather speed. In 1992 Nintendo and Sony struck another deal; this time, Sony’s console was to include a cartridge port for the SNES with Nintendo still taking the majority of revenue. But, as we all know, this was not to be.
In 1993, Sony decided to aim its console at new hardware and software; a decision that left no room for Nintendo. The SNES cartridge slot was one of the first things to go and Nintendo were cut out of the loop entirely by the simplest of changes; the Play Station became the PlayStation.
So began…well everything. In the 15 years since, we’ve seen some pretty impressive advances in the console world and whilst it would have been nothing without things such as Atari/Pong, the PlayStation has to take most of the credit for defining the industry. Sony stopped production of the PlayStation in 2006 and sales exceeded the 100 million unit mark; the first console ever to do so. Without Sony’s vision we wouldn’t have had the PlayStation 2 or 3, and it’s safe to say that without these foundations the Xbox and Xbox 360 may not have existed either.
The opportunity that the PlayStation presented gave birth to some of gaming’s most iconic and best loved moments including the first 3D Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Tekken (no longer just in arcades), Crash Bandicoot, Parappa The Rappa, Grand Theft Auto (otherwise it would have been for PC only), Ridge Racer (again, no longer just for arcade system boards), Silent Hill, Final Fantasy VII (the first 3D Final Fantasy), Dino Crisis and so many more that my head is beginning to hurt!
So here’s to wired controllers, memory cards, flip-up lids and chunky grey boxes. We salute you.
Thanks to Wiki for jogging my memory on certain events.