This year marks the 25th anniversary of the original PlayStation, with the console having launched in Japan on December 3, 1994. Australians didn’t get the PS1 until the following November, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dial back the clock a bit and enjoy how far the console has come — and how far Sony has come in marketing it.
Old commercials are a great window not just because it’s fun to dial back 25 years or so, but also because it’s fun to look back at what gaming publishers thought their audience was. Marketing has its own trends and phases, and you’ll see some of that in the classic PlayStation phases, including that time Sony teamed up with David Lynch for an ad.
Here’s an ad for Formula 1 on the PS1 in Australia back in 1996:
Remember when games were still sold in John Martin’s? Game Guru? World 4 Kids? And Harris Scarfe was still a thing?
Over in the US, here’s a promo for the PS1. Even then, Sony still had the best music.
Bet Sony doesn’t put “ray tracing” in their next ads the same way they kept pushing “polygons” for the PS1, though.
There was also a longer promo that Sony had for the console’s American launch. It was five minutes long and had 20 different games, including Gran Turismo, Battle Arena Toshinden, Wipeout, Jumping Flash, NBA JAM Tournament Edition, Mortal Kombat, and Kleak: The DNA Imperative, a mecha game that I’ve honestly never heard of.
In Europe, there was this Reefer Madness-inspired commercial, where instead of weed the ad is taking a shot at the PlayStation. The comparison of the PlayStation user as a monkey … definitely wouldn’t fly in 2019.
This ad from 1997, which featured a little bit of “Australia”, was from a much simpler time. Enjoy the explosion sound effect that you probably heard in a million video games from the ’90s, too.
PlayStation Europe took a different tack in this UK ad, which was based on a poem created by James Sinclair.
Aussie ads, though, had a tendency to get to the point a little more. Here’s a up and down pitch for the “Most Wanted” game titles in 1998 — basically the equivalent of today’s PlayStation Hits titles.
The Australian ad for Wipeout got to the point pretty quickly too. And the Point Blank ad is still a little funny today.
There was even a small moment where Sony just openly advertised DOOM as part of their basic PlayStation wrap.
For another wrap of PS1 commercials from different territories, some of which lean real hard into the old gamer stereotype, here’s a good compilation of ads just for the PS1.
What memories do you have of seeing the PlayStaion 1 for the first time?