How Virtua Fighter Saved The PlayStation

How Virtua Fighter Saved The PlayStation

Wired currently has an awesome little story up focusing on the history of the original PlayStation, and how it moved from a 2D sprite focused machine to a 3D powerhouse. Apparently it was all Virtua Fighter’s fault!

“If it wasn’t for Virtua Fighter, the PlayStation probably would have had a completely different hardware concept,” said ex-Sony producer Ryoji Akagawa.

Apparently the massive surge in popularity for the arcade fighter convinced everyone at Sony that 3D visuals were the way forward. Before that a console that focused on 2D visuals was seriously being discussed, most likely in the wake of the failed Super CD deal between Sony and Nintendo.

“Once Virtua Fighter was out, the direction of the PlayStation became instantly clear,” said ex-Sony Computer Entertainment chairman Shigeo Maruyama. “With great timing, Sega saved our hides.”

It’s difficult to imagine what the video game landscape would have looked like right now had Sony followed its initial instincts and gone with a less powerful, 2D focused machine. Sony really were the harbigers of the console arms race, in terms of releasing powerful pieces of multimedia tech. Perhaps SEGA would still be making hardware?


  • Meanwhile Sega decided to make a sprite-oriented system as a competitor and basically shot themselves in the foot. 🙁

    • Even though it was a commercial failure, the Saturn still had some excellent games (even 3D ones, that it wasn’t really designed for).

  • Interesting, I remember at the time Virtua Fighter being in the arcades and the original Playstation hitting the market with Tekken early on which I actually enjoyed much more than Virtua Fighter, so it was a win win. Tekken 2 was even better but I lost interest in the franchise after that.

    • Tekken has always been a much more intuitive game, one button for each limb, easy to pick up, tough to master.

  • Rather ironic, since the Playstation was responsible for the explosion in popularity of 3D polygon games, which screwed over the Sega Saturn, which was originally intended as a 2D powerhouse and had 3D thrown in at the last second due to the praise the Playstation was getting.

    • The Saturn was a more than adequate 3D machine. The PSX just had better games, something people always say is important, and it is. The Saturn could do 3D it just couldn’t do things like shadows and some lighting effects.

      The PSX was well marketed and had mind blowing games…. Something Sony should be doing for the PS3, but aren’t for some unknown reason.

      • Welcome to 2012, please check the keys for your delorean at the door on your way in as you prepare for your debriefing of the last 6 years…….

        All jokes aside, you honestly think the ps3 doesn’t have mind blowing games? Your comment would be right at home in 2006/7…. but, well, things have changed a little since then.

        I do agree that the Saturn was just as capable as the PSX…. but the way the hardware was designed it was simply too convoluted to program efficiently, with under developed toolchains and not enough support from sega to the developers. And of course a massive fail in marketing and timings of their releases, which carried on into the Dreamcast days…

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!