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access_time September 19, 2012 at 12:00 AM in Features by Tim St. Croix

A Brief History of the Sony PlayStation

Sony and specifically the Playstation consoles are a staple of gaming this however wasn’t always so, up until the mid 90’s or so the market was dominated by two forces. Nintendo and Sega, they were the Marvel and DC of the console market and what system you owned defined what type of gamer you were.

Then all of a sudden the new kid on the block arrived, Sony Playstation. He was disc based, and he launched with a semi impressive debut. With a great graphics processor and a suite of never before seen games in the US, the Playstation brand went from unknown to celebrity overnight it seemed. However unlike Nintendo and Sega it was lacking that one thing that seemed essential in those days a mascot. Nintendo had Mario and Sega had Sonic, what did Playstation have?

For a while Playstation didn’t really have a mascot, then a little game appeared called Crash Bandicoot and he seemed the answer to that question with tight platforming and a great adventure game with a memorable character he seemed like exactly what the doctor ordered. Crash was also developed by then relatively unknown studio Naughty Dog who would go on to create perhaps the best, certainly one of the highest rated video games series Uncharted, exclusively for the Playstation 3. Then down the pipeline came Spyro a lovable purple dragon. Then all of a sudden Sony had two mascots and within a span of years and several sequels Sony made them a staple of the average diet of the Playstation gamer. Much like Mario and Link were for Nintendo, and Sonic for Sega.

This went on for several years then suddenly at the dawn of the millennium the Playstation 2 debuted to rave reviews, fantastic graphics and a suite of games that a lot of which are now firmly established franchises in their own right. It wasn’t until it debuted here in America on October 26, 2000 that such franchises that we take for granted were updated and made almost unrecognizable from their previous iterations. One of the best examples of this was a little game called Madden 2001 which was so stunning in its graphics and new game play that it revitalized the series itself. Other games soon followed like Tony Hawk and Mortal Kombat which boosted the systems esteem in the eyes of the hardcore gaming crowd. It even set a record for the best selling console system of all time having sold 154.4 million units as of November 21, 2011.

Five years after the impressive launch of the PS2 and still well into its lifecycle at the 2005 E3 conference Sony unveiled its new console the Playstation 3. About a year later the PS3 was available to retailers on November 17, 2006 in North America and on November 11, 2006 in Japan. According to Media Create, 81,639 PS3 systems were sold within 24 hours of its introduction in Japan. Making it one of the most impressive launch debuts of any console on record. With a blu-ray drive that would play the latest iteration of disc-based movies, HDMI connectivity for hi-def gaming and a massive hard drive, the PS3 was a juggernaut, and its price point proved it.

That however didn’t stop developers from preferring it for certain games, the blu-ray format could hold much more data than its competitors discs, the Xbox 360, and some developers like ID for instance when they made their game Rage mentioned this fact in interviews. What also helped make the console a hit was the fact that it could play 3D Blu-ray movies and with a wave of 3D TV’s hitting the market made it a cheap and effective home media unit that with a suite of apps such as hulu plus, Netflix, and the free online gaming provided by the Playstation Network made it a must have for a large section of gamers.

The console is now 6 years into its lifecycle and Sony has publically stated that the plan to have at least a ten year lifespan for its console. So while rumors run amok about a Playstation 4 I wouldn’t expect any drastic unveilings for at least another 2 years. However when they do unveil it, you can be sure it will blow any expectations you and I have out of the water about just what a console can do.


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