||3rd Dec 1994
||9th Sep 1995
||29th Sep 1995
Nintendo had released a floppy drive for their previous console, the Famicom. After they released it’s follow up, the Super Famicom, they decided they wanted to do the same thing.
Rather than approach Sharp as they had with the Famicom, Nintendo decided to talk to Sony through Ken Kutaragi, the man who had convinced them to use the Sony SPC-700 sound chip instead of the near standard Yamaha family.
Sony returned with a prototype, a unit that was slightly bigger than the base machine but packed a CD Rom. This was a working prototype and the Nintendo execs agreed to work together.
Nintendo agreed to announce the partnership at the May 1991 Consumer Electronics Show. However, behind the scenes then president Hiroshi Yamauchi had re-read the contract and realised it handed Sony far too much power.
When Nintendo of America chairman, Howard Lincoln, stepped up on the stage instead of announcing the partnership with Sony, he announced one with Philips. Philips were Sony’s main rival in the CD world and this was a gut punch too far.
Sony approached Sega, Nintendo’s chief rival, and offered them the technology. Sega of America were interested but the idea was vetoed by Sega of Japan who stated, Sony don’t know how to make hardware or software, why would we do this?
Sony considered canning the whole project but instead decided to do it themselves after all. They started planning a whole new machine based on their work and, after seeing Virtua Fighter, making it primarily 3D Focused.
The launch was nearly perfect. Because they didn’t have the luxury of an existing games unit, they purchased companies and signed exclusivity contracts with others. Sega managed to help them by flubbing the Saturn launch badly and Nintendo were far behind with their 3D console.
The Playstation shot into the lead in every market, far outselling the Saturn. It was still being outsold by the previous generation but price cuts in the following years solved that too.
Whilst Nintendo are considered to have saved the games industry with the Famicom, they didn’t really grow the market in any meaningful way. The Playstation, on the other hand, increased the target market to an older generation, thus hitting a more mature and wealthier demographic.
Because of this the games market started on the path to beating the film industry in revenue and moved the hobby out of the niche that it had been stuck in since inception. They made it cool to play games.
The Japanese market took longer for Sony to dominate, whilst they took the lead early, the Saturn didn’t fall as far behind. Much of this was due to brand loyalty, something that the North American and European markets weren’t really affected by.
Sony released a cut price, smaller version called the Ps One in 2000.
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