Fifteen years ago, Phillips, Sega and 3DO were struggling to get North American consumers to accept CD-based gaming. On September 9, 1995, Sony came along and showed them how it's done, changing the face of gaming as we knew it.
Up until 1995, Sony's major contribution to North American consumer electronics had been the Walkman, the brand that became synonymous with cassette and CD-based portable music players. The launch of the PlayStation in September of that year ushered in a new age of innovation in the gaming industry, and today, the PlayStation brand is in many ways in the exact same position, often used in mass media to describe gaming in lieu of more general terms.
The original PlayStation was a bit of a gamble for Sony. While CD gaming had been accepted by PC gamers, console players were clutching their cartridges to their chests protectively, refusing to budge. The Sega-CD came and went. The Phillips CD-i played pretty games, but the cost was far too high. The 3DO failed to catch on, and even the Sega Saturn, released in North America in May of 1995, failed to make a sizable dent in the cartridge market.
The PlayStation didn't simply succeed. It excelled. With CD-quality sound and graphics unlike anything console gamers had ever seen, it was clearly superior to its chief competition, the Nintendo 64. The situation was quite ironic, considering the PlayStation began as a joint project between Sony and Nintendo, only to have Nintendo back out of the deal to partner with Phillips on a project that would never come to fruition.
The 1995 launch of the PlayStation in North America wasn't simply the launch of a console. It was the beginning of a brand that's thrived for a decade and a half. The PlayStation 2 remains the best-selling video game console of all time, and the PlayStation 3 is looking to lead the market towards a 3D revolution.
Sony has sold more than 377 million PlayStation-branded consoles in the past 15 years, moving two billion units of software. In the US, the brand accounts for 40 per cent of the game market share to date, generating more than $US63 billion in revenue.
"When you look in the rearview mirror at what was happening in 1995 you see that the video game industry was an entirely different animal. Cartridges were still the preferred medium, and the market was a modest $US2.6 billion in sales revenue annually. Many critics thought that a disc-based console with a lot of horsepower would shoot over the heads of consumers, but our users proved them wrong," said Jack Tretton, CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment America. "Now we are seeing a convergence of video games and home entertainment and a market that is a robust $US20 billion in revenue. In the next 15 years and beyond, PlayStation will continue to bring new and more immersive experiences, like stereoscopic 3D, augmented reality, as well as genre-defying gameplay into consumer living rooms."
Sony invites fans to help celebrate the 15-year anniversary, with several special discounts and free items available through the PlayStation Network.
- Free downloadable PS3 & PSP static themes available for download on the PlayStation Store starting today
- Weekly discounts on select PS One titles within the PlayStation 15th anniversary collection page, available in all SCEA territories on PS3, PSP and Media Go Storefronts. In addition to a 50 per cent sale on Super Rub A Dub (Super Rub A Dub offer good from Thursday, September 9, 2010 - through Monday, September 20, 2010)
- A PlayStation Home commemorative Original PlayStation (PS One) ornament for personal spaces available starting today
There have been a few missteps along the way, but the PlayStation brand has proved itself an enduring one and secured a spot as one of the most beloved names in gaming history.
Happy anniversary, PlayStation!