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?