Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Happy 20th Playstation

It's hard to believe but the PlayStation is almost ready to drink some beer. Yep, as incredible as this sounds, PlayStation is 20 years old today in America. (It hit Japan back in December 1994).

What a logo.

The sleek grey console was one of the ultimate pieces of entertainment ever made, and helped to double down on my lifelong love of video games. In fact, if you forget the notion that video games constantly get better and are always the best they can be, it is easily my favorite console. It's part of the reason that this current generation of consoles prompted me to buy a PlayStation 4.  

It was a literal game changer upon release and helped to change the landscape of gaming, and for that today we salute the grey monster.

The original PlayStation launch is an iPhone-level example of how to enter an established market and blindside every existing player. Nintendo, the market leader, was locked in a brutal dogfight with Sega for the hearts and minds of children across the world. Sony originally planned to release a CD-ROM-equipped Super Nintendo called the PlayStation, and showcased such a product at CES 1991; Nintendo, however, called off the partnership a day after Sony’s announcement due to disagreements over revenue sharing. Ken Kutaragi’s renegade division within Sony regrouped and, a few years later, reemerged with a product that subverted Nintendo’s entire business.

After Nintendo ended its Sony partnership and a brief dalliance with Philips fizzled, the company reasserted its focus on cartridge technology for its first true 3D console, the Nintendo 64. Sega, meanwhile, released a 3D-capable, CD-equipped console of its own, the Saturn, but a combination of high pricing and poor 3D performance quickly saw it reduced to a sideshow. The PlayStation was built from the ground up to run CD-ROM discs and render 3D video game graphics, and everything fell into place for Sony. As 3D technology became mainstream, developers wanted to produce more realistic games that could attract an older audience. The PlayStation proved the perfect vehicle.

Those heady pre-analog days...

The PlayStation introduced me to my all time favorite game series in Metal Gear Solid, (which I am playing the 5th sequel to right now on a PlayStation), genre masterpieces like Castlevania: Syphony of The Night, and the beginnings of franchises that today would be unthinkable to have in gaming (Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Gran Turismo). It helped bring games to so many more people, and began to show that they weren't just for kids, but could legitimately be art as well. 

So today let's celebrate!  Open up your closet, look under your bed, and get that familiar rectangle out and fire up some Final Fantasy VII, or a little Crash Bandicoot.  

I'll leave you with my favorite part of the PlayStation, something that I desperately wish in a world of instant resume, that we still had.  The greatest startup sequence ever:

Happy birthday PlayStation.

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