20 years of PlayStation
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years of PlayStation. I remember the time when my family got the PlayStation 1 so vividly that it seems like only yesterday. After its announcement, excitement steadily growing around Sony’s debut video game console until it finally released – and astounded everyone. Sony’s revolutionary console may just be the single most important video game console ever developed – it accomplished so much in such a short time that it redefined the entire video game industry. Because of it, games move past the technological limitations set by cartridges and into the future of optical media. Not only that, but as the PlayStation’s games progressed we would see some of the greatest franchises ever to grace our lounge rooms appear.
The gaming industry owes a lot to Sony and its grey gizmo. Let’s take a look at the story behind the first PlayStation, the consoles that succeeded it and have a look at some of the top-selling franchises for each system.
The PlayStation (1994 – Japan, 1995 – USA, AUS, EU)
Most Popular Games
- Gran Turismo – 9 million
- Final Fantasy VII – 7 million
- Gran Turismo 2 – 9.4 million
- Final Fantasy VIII – 7.8 million
- Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back – 7.5 million
- Tekken 3 – 7.1 million
- Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped – 7.1 million
- Crash Bandicoot – 6.8 million
- Driver – 6.27 million
- Metal Gear Solid –03 million
Funnily enough, the PlayStation nearly didn’t even exist, at least not as we know it. It originally began development as a Nintendo product – an expansion to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom in Japan). In 1988, Nintendo and Sony worked together on a model of the Famicom with a built-in CD-ROM drive. Ultimately, the two companies were unable to come to an agreement in regards to sharing the profits from the project and the plug was pulled on the deal, with Nintendo turning to Philips for a similar collaboration. Sony’s president, Norio Ohga appointed Ken Kutaragi (who later became known as the “Father of the PlayStation”) as the head of their new PlayStation project. Unfortunately for Nintendo, they lost faith in optical media and the Nintendo-Philips console never saw the light of day (though they would utilise optical media later). While I have no doubts that a Sony-Nintendo CD-ROM console would have been amazing, I’m glad that Sony entered the video game industry with their very own console.
The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, North America on September 9, 1995, Europe on September 29, 1995, and Oceania on November 15, 1995. Its launch included Battle Arena Toshinden, Warhawk, Air Combat, Ridge Racer and Rayman. While Rayman utilised the power of the PlayStation to deliver a gorgeous 2D platformer that was still firmly rooted in the 2D platformers of yesteryear, the majority of Sony PlayStation titles embraced the power of the console to deliver 3D games that were leaps and bounds ahead of what the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) and Super Famicom (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) were offering. Gamers would become immersed in games like never before.
102 million PlayStation units were shipped during it’s ten year production run.
The PlayStation 2 (2000)
Most Popular Games
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – 20.81 million
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – 16.15 million
- Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec – 14.98 million
- Grand Theft Auto III – 13.10 million
- Gran Turismo 4 – 11.66 million
- Final Fantasy X – 8.05 million
- Need for Speed Underground – 7.20 million
- Need for Speed Underground 2 – 6.90 million
- Medal of Honor: Frontline – 6.83 million
- Kingdom Hearts – 6.40 million
The PlayStation 2 was released on March 4th, 2000 in Japan with the rest of the world following later in the same year. It made $250 million in one day, surpassing the $97 million made in one day by its competitor, the Sega Dreamcast. The PS2 was such a huge success that Sony could not manufacture consoles fast enough to meet the demand, meaning that retailers would sell out and remain that way for weeks.
A huge technological leap forward from the original PlayStation, the PS2 utilised the superior storage space of both single layer (4.7gb) DVDs and dual layer DVDs (9gb). Where the PS1 had a 32-bit CPU able to run at 33mhz, the PS2 had a 64-bit CPU capable of processing at 299mhz. The PS2 looked unbelievably gorgeous, with most games running at 720×480 resolution (standard definition) but a few running at 720p (high definition). The Tekken and Gran Turismo games were particularly gorgeous, and were often shown at press events and game conventions.
It is also worth noting that the PlayStation 2 was Sony’s first console capable of online play, though this required the purchase and use of a network adaptor. The first title to include online play was SOCOM: US Navy SEALs. Other online-capable titles included Blitz: The League, Call of Duty 3 and of course, Final Fantasy XI.
The PS2 went on to be the best-selling video game console in history, selling more than 155 million units. Over 3,870 games have been released for the PS2 since launch, and more than 1.5 billion copies of games have been sold globally.
PlayStation Portable (PSP) (2004)
Most Popular Games
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories – 7.6 million
- Monster Hunter Freedom Unite – 5.4 million
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories – 4.9 million
- Monster Hunter Portable 3rd – 4.8 million
- Daxter – 1 million
- Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters – 3.6 million
- Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition – 3.6 million
- God of War: Chains of Olympus – 3.1 million
- Gran Turismo – 3.1 million
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – 1 million
Rumours of handheld consoles from Sony and Microsoft circulated for years, though it wasn’t until the PSP was revealed that they saw any truth to them. Microsoft never entered the handheld market, though they did develop mobile phones with Nokia (who they later purchased for $7.2 billion) that played games.
It was Sony that became a rival to Nintendo’s handheld division in 2004, with the release of the PlayStation Portable (PSP for short). Japanese launch titles included Armored Core: Formula Front, Lumines, Ridge Racers and Vampire Chronicle: The Chaos Tower while the North American launch (only a few months later) included games such as Ape Escape: On the Loose, Dynasty Warriors, Metal Gear Acid, Need for Speed: Underground Rivals and Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix.
The PSP used Universal Media Discs as its primary storage medium, a small disc that was stored in protective plastic cases. Initially, there were problems with a small number of Japanese launch PSPs, which would eject the disc if the PSP was held on a certain angle or twisted, as well as dead pixels on the screen. Sony offered customers replacements and it wasn’t long before the PlayStation Portable was selling out in Japan.
The PS1 was able to play audio CDs and the PS2 was able to do that in addition to being able to play DVDs. The PlayStation Portable was also a game device with a few tricks up its sleeve, being able to play movies (which were also stored on UMDs), read media from SD cards, connectivity with the PS2 and PS3, as well as connect to the internet. Nintendo finally had some handheld competition to be reckoned with.
There have been a number of revisions to the PlayStation Portable, including multiple that saw the inclusion of a microphone and the PSP-Go (PSP-N1000) which ditched UMDs in favour of the customer buying everything through Sony’s digital marketplace, the PSN.
As of March 31st, 2012, the PSP has sold over 76.3 million units!
During the PlayStation 2’s peak, the face of the console gaming landscape had changed dramatically. Sega’s troubled Dreamcast failed to perform decently in the United States, due to a lack of Western titles and most notably, sports titles. When the Dreamcast was ultimately discontinued in 2001, another company emerged with their own ambitious rival to the PlayStation 2 – Microsoft and their “Xbox”.
In late 2005, Microsoft released the successor to the Xbox, the Xbox 360 – though Sony was not about to roll over and admit defeat. They had plans of their own, delivering one of their finest consoles to date…
PlayStation 3 (2006 – Japan, USA, 2007 Europe, Australia)
Most Popular Games
- Grand Theft Auto V – 18.95 million
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – 13.17 million
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – 13.08 million
- Call of Duty: Black Ops – 12.34 million
- Gran Turismo 5 – 10.50 million
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – 10.47 million
- Grand Theft Auto IV – 10.26 million
- Call of Duty Ghosts – 9.29 million
- FIFA Soccer 13 – 8.09 million
- Battlefield 3 – 7.03 million
The PlayStation 3 was released at the end of 2006. Demand for the console was so high that once again it would sell out for weeks and even months at a time. Once again able to embrace cutting-edge technology, the PlayStation 3 utilised Blu-ray discs as its primary storage. Not only that, the PlayStation 3 also had its own unified online gaming service, PlayStation Network (PSN) to compete with Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE.
When it was revealed at E3 2005, the PS3 had a truly bizarre controller. Shaped like a boomerang, it quickly drew criticism and was quickly changed in favour of a more traditional controller. The boomerang controller has become a rare collectible with some of the controllers appearing on online auction sites like eBay.
Launch titles for the PS3 included Call of Duty 3, Genji: Days of the Blade, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Resistance: Fall of Man and Tony Hawk’s Project 8.
The PS3 was (and still is) an amazing console, boasting a plethora of brilliant games such as the Uncharted series, the Infamous series, the LittleBigPlanet series as well as the Singstar games. It became a must-have item for many homes around the world, and even saw Sony embrace online gaming and indie developers (though indie games are predominantly PSN only). As of November 2013, the PS3 has sold over 80 million units.
The PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) (2011 – Japan, 2012 Worldwide)
Most popular Games
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss – 3 million
- Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation – 1.1 million
- Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified – 1.1 million
- LittleBigPlanet PS Vita – 0.89 million
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted – A Criterion Game – 0.78 million
- Persona 4: The Golden – 0.77 million
- Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster – 0.60 million
- Killzone: Mercenary – 0.56 million
- FIFA Soccer – 0.54 million
- Rayman Origins – 0.51 million
The successor to the PSP, the PlayStation Vita is Sony’s current handheld gaming device. An immense leap forward from the PSP, the PS Vita is not only able to play games and various media, but it also has a front touch screen, rear touchpad, Six Axis motion sensing, three-axis electronic compass, D-pad, 16 buttons and two analog sticks, all met by a huge and bright screen.
One of the slickest features of the PS Vita is its ability to be used as a second screen for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 through Remote Play (though the number of PS3 compatible games is much smaller).
While it didn’t have a great deal of stellar launch titles, the PS Vita was still a remarkable little gizmo. The handheld becomes more and more impressive each day, with some games even supporting cross-platform saves, meaning that you can continue progressing through a game while away from your main console. You can build your world in Minecraft on your PS Vita while you’re out and about and then continue to build it on your PS3 when you get home. Or you can play the amazing Dragon’s Crown on Vita and then continue the adventure on your PS3 later. The best part is, you only have to pay for the game once to own it across a number of platforms!
The PS Vita sold 4.2 million units in 2013 (Figures for 2014 are unavailable).
The PlayStation 4 (2013 – USA, Europe, 2014 – Japan)
Most Popular Games
- FIFA 15 – 4.3 million
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – 4 million
- Destiny – 3.8 million
- Watch Dogs – 3.4 million
- Grand Theft Auto V – 3.1 million
- Call of Duty: Ghosts – 2.8 million
- FIFA Soccer 14 – 2.6 million
- Battlefield 4 – 2.3 million
- The Last of Us – 2.3 million
- Killzone: Shadow Fall – 2 million
During a press conference in in 2013, Sony announced the successors to the PS3 – the PlayStation 4. On November 29, 2013 – one week to the day after Microsoft released their Xbox One on to the gaming market, Sony released their latest edition to the console war.
Sony was quoted as saying that the PlayStation 4 was “the world’s most powerful console” and they weren’t wrong! The PlayStation 4’s GPU can perform 1.843 teraflops – in plain English that means that the PlayStation 4 is currently around 50 per cent faster than the Xbox One, graphic fidelity and image resolution are higher and processing of game graphics are faster.
As of September 2014, less than one year since its world wide release, a whopping 13.5 million PS4 units had been sold! Sales of the PS4 equate to almost 44% of the gaming console market.
Sony wanted the PS4 to be for The Players. With and increased focus on social gaming, live in game streaming with friends and a “Share” button incorporated into the DualShock 4 controller, players are now more connected to their gaming friends than ever. Other features which have helped push the sales of the PS4 include the PlayStation Now (rumoured to be released in Australia in 2015) which is a cloud based gaming service that offers streaming, the PlayStation app which was designed to enhance gameplay by allowing use of smartphones or tablets as a second screen and the use of a PS Vita to allow remote play.
The controller – aptly named the DualShock 4, is similar to that of the DualShock 3 however its capabilities have been ramped up! Bluetooth connectivity, a touch pad, motion detection, a stereo headphone jack and a light bar which not only helps identify players (when playing local multiplayer) but also interacts with the PlayStation Camera. The camera (an optional extra) features two 1280×800px lenses which allow for different modes of operation depending on what you are doing. Amazingly, one of the cameras can be used for generating video streaming images, whilst the other can be used for motion tracking in the game.
So, where to for the PlayStation in 2015?
It appears that things can only be going onwards and upwards for the PlayStation 4 in 2015. In a recent press release, PlayStation 4 was crowned the fastest selling home video games console in Australian history!
This achievement came in advance of PlayStation celebrating its 20th anniversary in the Australian market in early 2014, and proves the PlayStation brand continues to be the favourite place to play for Australian gamers. In addition to being the fastest selling home console in Australian history, PS4 retains the number one next-gen console leadership position, according to data from NPD Group Australia.
Further to the reception it has received from Australian gamers since its release, PlayStation 4 has been a significant driver in category growth since its release. According to Luis Gil, The NPD Group Australia, “the Console Hardware category in Australia has more than doubled in value since release of 8th Generation Hardware in 2013. PlayStation 4 accounted for a substantial 44% of the total category value since its launch”. This statement was based on a case study carried out by NPD Group Australia for Console Hardware sales data for the week commencing November 25th 2013 to the week ending October 26th 2014.
“As PlayStation powers into its twentieth year in Australia, we couldn’t be happier with our position with PS4 at the top spot of the interactive entertainment industry,” Michael Ephraim, Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia and New Zealand has recently state. “I’ve watched this business grow over the 20 years and have had the pleasure of being part of the monumental change in innovation and category growth; of which PlayStation has historically been a key driver of. PlayStation 4 is now the fastest selling home console in Australian history and this reflects the passion of our players, our partners and the quality of the PlayStation offer.”
Critical to the PlayStation experience is the best-in-class technology that underpins it. With social connectivity at the heart of PS4, the evolution of its system software brings together new ways to interact with the global community. The recent release of System Software 2.0 reinforces these specifications, with a focus on innovative gaming experiences including Share Play which allows a PlayStation Plus member to invite a friend who owns a PS4 to join them on the virtual sofa. In addition, there is continued personalisation that includes the introduction of a USB Music Player, themes, home screen colours, voice control and a dedicated YouTube app. Sony Xperia phone users can enjoy the ability to remote play games on their console.
Sony Compter Entertainment Australia continues to expand its innovative PlayStation ecosystem with the introduction PlayStation TV nationwide which occurred on November 14th. The PlayStation TV allows players to live stream a game from their PS4 to another TV in their home! Good bye fighting over who has control of the TV!
Just recently announced, the new ABC iview app for PS4 makes it easier than ever to enjoy ABC on demand on TV screens through a cinematic and easily navigable big-screen interface. The latest version of ABC iview will also launch on PlayStation 3 in coming weeks. iview was first to market on gaming consoles locally when it launched on PS3 in 2009.
Rebecca Heap, ABC Head of TV Strategy and Digital Products said, “In 2014 ABC iview was the number one internet TV service in Australia with more than 20 million plays per month and a 29% year on year increase in weekly program plays. We are delighted to be launching ABC iview on PS4 and will continue to be the home of Australian stories for our audience on all their screens with the best user experience.”
Michael Ephraim, Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia said, “PlayStation and ABC iview have enjoyed a long relationship since the service debuted on home consoles with PlayStation 3 as the inaugural platform in 2009. We are thrilled to expand our suite of platforms that offer the extensive stellar range of ABC viewing to our PS4 audience.”
Showing a clear commitment to The Players, PlayStation 4 offers an unparalleled software line-up for the festive season which includes SingStar Ultimate Party, DRIVECLUB™, Minecraft PS4 Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5, Assassin’s Creed®: Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and LittleBigPlanet 3, offering something for everyone in the family. In early 2015 highly anticipated and exclusive titles continue with The Order: 1886, Bloodborne and Until Dawn.
If you haven’t checked out the PlayStation Youtube channel, you should! 2015 will see an even BIGGER push on Indie game titles being realised, most of which are available now on Steam. Many new titles will be making their debut appearance on the PS4 such as the amazing looking ‘No Man’s Sky’ from Hello Games. Don’t under estimate the power of the Indie titles and be sure to stock up on PSN credit!
2015 is going to be a huge year for not only gamers with amazing title releases, but also for the PlayStation family! Happy 20th Birthday PlayStation! Here’s to the next 20 years!