A computer game
, made by Sony
. Also, something of a small cultural revolution. It has had a long life for a games console, and has undergone many changes. Its history is also a little odd.
Back when the SNES
was nearing the end of its viable commercial life, Nintendo
wanted to wring a few last drops from it. Their solution was the SNES CD drive. Nintendo teamed up with Sony to create the addon
, but pulled out of the deal and switched to Philips
By this time, the Sony / Nintendo partnership had already drawn up plans for a 'Playstation
' .. a CD-ROM
addon for the SNES. It was never completed though, as Nintendo backed out. Sony was then left holding a bundle of research into a CD console, and a name .. 'Playstation'.
the PlayStation R&D
project was completed. Sony Computer Entertainment
was established, and Ken Kutaragi
becomes the Executive Vice President of its R&D Division.
In December of that year, the Playstation hardware was demonstrated to developers in London
. In January of 1994
, the hardware was also demonstrated to US
In December of 1994 the Playstation launched in Japan
, at 39,800 Yen
. By May the next year, over a million units are sold. In September 1995
, the Playstation launched in America .. it sold 100,000 units in two days. September also saw the European launch of the Playstation. By Christmas
, around 350,000 units had been sold in Europe.
The immediate success of the Playstation was largely due to the quality of the launch
games, and specifically Namco
. Tekken was the first Playstation game to hit the one million copies mark, and it was the first in a series of games which will go down in the videogaming hall of fame. In one day on the launch of Tekken 3 in Japan, one million copies were shipped to retail.
In January 1997
Sony launched the 'Platinum
' range .. a selection of games (which had been on sale successfully for a while) whose prices were reduced. This was a good move .. making many of the best games more affordable
to the kids. It also had the side effect of making some games increase in price. Some stores would offer discounts, more than the Platinum range .. so when a game 'went platinum' it would actually go up in price. This was kinda rare though, and overall the Platinum range was a good idea.
In February 1997, the Net Yaroze
launched in Europe. This programmable
version of the Playstation has been a mild success .. although perhaps not taking off in quite the way Sony had hoped, it has offered an affordable route to Playstation programming, and has a loyal
In February 1998
Sony announce the Pocketstation
.. a PDA
extension to the standard Playstation memory card. A lot of hype
surrounded its announcement, which was never fully realised. As of September 2000
, I'm still not sure if you can buy the thing in the UK
In its lifetime the Playstation has undergone a number of hardware changes, mostly aimed at reducing the manufacturing costs. The main effect has been to reduce the clutter
at the rear of the machine. The downside
of this unpopular move is that if you want to do anything more complex than hook it up to a TV, you need to purchase a whole bundle of cables. I did read in an old copy of Edge
magazine that a few people reported a change in the quality of graphics in certain old games between original Playstations and later revisions. I never did find out what the conclusion
s were on that.
One of the big strengths of the Playstation is the wealth
of titles available for it. At the end of the financial year 1999
announced there were 1592 titles available in Japan, 515 in the US, and 550 in Europe.
The Playstation is available in a number of multicoloured casings:
Playstation Flavour Guide
- Your standard, consumer
- The Net Yaroze
- A test
ing version of the Playstation. Mostly used by dev team
s to test the games (and also by journalist
s to test early code) the blue flavour lacks a country code check, and will play gold disc
- Same as the Blue flavour.
- Regular consumer version, with added MPEG
compatibility, allowing it to play the CD movie
s (mostly karaoke
) that are so popular in Asia
. There are no plans to release this version outside of Asia.
Earlier I said that the Playstation has been something of a small cultural revolution
. It's hard to gauge the full impact it's had, but some things are certain. The playstation has changed the common image of videogaming. Gaming is no longer seen as the preserve of socially challenged
young boys .. the Playstation has made it 'cool
' to play videogames.
This is in no small part due to its close links to clubbing
. Since Sony made the genius marketing move of having some Playstations installed in a few club chill out room
s, they are now required furniture in any self respecting club. The playstation (mine at least) came with a demo
disc which contained an audio visualisation
program. You loaded it to RAM
and put in an audio CD. It then created a bizarre light show in time to the beats, much akin to club visuals
More complex versions of this program have since become available .. as have music creation 'games' which act as quasi sequencer
s .. requiring only an output
to a hifi
to let you create and record your own music
. The quality of this music is often questionable, but the product puts basic music creation tools into the hands of millions of people for a tiny amount of money. In my opinion that's quite a good thing.
Sony has sponsored snowboarding
teams, and they were reponsible for the infamous 'roach
paper' adverts. It's marketing like this which has seen the Playstation become such an integral part of popular culture. Bands ask for Playstations to be installed on their tour bus
es, and Land Rover
offer to fit them in top spec Range Rover
The playstation has seen so many great games, too many to ever list here. Instead I will offer my humble
suggestions for games to try if you haven't already.
I'm crap at these kind of list things, so please simply ignore it if it annoys you.
And if you were wondering where the PSX
moniker comes from, it's because originally Nintendo
wasn't too hot on Sony using the Playstation name, given that it had been the name for the SNES
CD addon. So Sony used 'Playstation X
', shortened to PSX, which then became Playstation again. Nintendo no longer seems to care much.
Update (26th Jan):
I'm informed by Clone
that the Pocketstation
never made it out of Japan
, with many games seeing a foreign release only after having their Pocketstation code removed.
also notes that the Playstation
is now officially dead, with the PSone
taking its place. Interestingly it seems the console topped the console sales charts in the US