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Remembering the PlayStation (PSX) on its 25th Birthday

Today, is the PlayStation’s 25th anniversary (and the Dreamcast’s 21st), apart from feeling a little nostalgic and perhaps even a tinge of sadness (I am getting old); there is much to be excited about.

Rumors have been floating around for a few weeks now that today is the day that Sony will announce both the price of the PlayStation 5, and the opening of pre-orders for the system. The rumors of the surprise announcement coincide with the important anniversary, which would definitely please the Sony faithful, and those of us who have been on board for a quarter of a century with the brand.

What Sony  Did For The Industry

Perhaps an excerpt from our “Greatest Consoles of All-Time” article is fitting here to describe the importance of the original PlayStation on the industry:

Playstation made ‘Video Gaming’ amongst the masses a ‘Cool’, and ‘Hip” thing. Before the system’s rise to prominence, video games were largely considered a kids, and teens pastime. Consoles were, for the most part, considered expensive toys before the PS1 proved that video games could reach the adult demographic with a degree of success rivaling (and surpassing) that of every other entertainment industry.

Perhaps, just as importantly, the brand “Playstation” became synonymous with “Video Games”, managing to take that distinction away from Nintendo.

I remember that for most of the 90’s decade, my mom – and almost everyone else’s ‘mom’ – would say:

“ Do you want to buy a Nintendo game for your birthday?” As if every console in existence was a Nintendo console.

But, by the end of the 90’s my mom was singing a different tune, the word ‘Nintendo’ had been replaced with ‘Playstation’ in her vocabulary. -Samuel Rivera

The PlayStation did that, it ended a decade of Nintendo domination, and it steered the gaming industry into a direction that Nintendo seemed adverse to touch.

To be fair, Sega had tried with the Genesis a similar approach in marketing themselves towards a cooler ‘Hip’ and ‘Mature audience’ than just kids. Still, Sega kept shooting itself on the foot by flooding the market with expensive handhelds, and add ons.The Japanese company finished its long line blunders by botching the Sega Saturn’s architecture, and launch.

Sony took advantage of this, by creating a smartly designed system that was both, affordable for the consumer, and developer friendly. Sony also made some strides in its relations with developers and third party publishers, presenting them with a friendlier royalty and marketing system than that of its rivals.

Nintendo, remained the bigger brand by 1996, but the company opened the doors for Sony’s success by going cartridge, and continuing some of their tyrannic practices against 3rd parties.

chrono cross gameplay screenshot
The PS1 was the premier JRPG machine of the era. Games like Chrono Cross made it a must own machine for the RPG fan.

Sony itself, had been a victim of Nintendo’s business practices years before the launch of the PlayStation. Their console was actually born as a result of a Nintendo betrayal.

The PS1 has one of the most interesting backgrounds stories of any console. Primarily, because a few moves here and there by Nintendo and Sega (The market leaders prior to 1995), and perhaps, the Playstation brand as we know, and love, would have never seen the light of day.

Nintendo in the late 80’s made a business partnership with Sony. Their deal consisted mostly on the creation of  a CD-ROM physical attachment for their upcoming SNES system. The device was to be designed, and developed by Sony itself.

Now, the contract in place wasn’t satisfactory to Nintendo, as said deal gave Sony a great degree of control over games developed on the CD-ROM format for the SNES.

Anyone following Nintendo since the 80s, will tell you that the company was a control freak with their properties, and the media that would play on its systems. The company went as far as enforcing near tyrannical practices against third party publishers.

Knowing this, Nintendo’s move to betray Sony, and to form a partnership with Phillips – shortly there after – shouldn’t have surprised anyone, but apparently it did surprise Sony. – Samuel Rivera

Sony, angry at the betrayal actually went to Sega (Nintendo’s #1 rival at the time), but Sega dismissed the company because – according to Sega – it didn’t understand Hardware and Software.

Tekken 3
Tekken 3 remains my favorite fighting game of all time. Image Source: Video Game Museum.

But what goes around, comes around, and Sony would go  on to develop better hardware, and to acquire studios and partnerships that would develop better software than Sega.

Sony would also go on to kick the proverbial bully’s (Nintendo) arse, by completely dominating the market from 1995 to 2006 (PS1-PS2), and then from 2013 until today with the PS4.

Sony has been the dominant video gaming power for the greater part of the last 25 years, and the PS1’s smart design, and focus on mature gaming experiences ignited the company’s success and the boom of the video gaming industry as a whole.

With 102 million units sold, the original PlayStation also smashed all previous home console sales records (even that of SNES). The PlayStation was the fighting game’s machine with franchises like Tekken being exclusive to the platform, Gran Turismo 1&2 were simply the greatest gaming sims of the time, and perhaps more importantly it was the console that popularized the  Japanese Role-Playing Genre on the West.

Final Fantasy VII, was one of the power players that helped the PlayStation to quickly outsell the Nintendo 64. Nintendo had the “quality over quantity” mantra in those days, and in truth they had the better, more revolutionary 3-D games (Mario 64, Golden Eye, Ocarina of Time), but Sony had a few games that were nearly as great, and a large catalogue of very good games in different genres that was much more attractive than Nintendo’s smaller library.

Ace Combat
Ace Combat was my very first flying experience.

While my love for the N64 has been well documented, I might have spent more time in the 90’s and even the early part of the 00’s playing the PS1. The RPG catalog that the machine offered was unrivaled, (I even still have some RPGs left to play on my back log like Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth).

But I was also a huge Tekken fan, Namco performed miracles porting the trio of Tekken games to the system, with Tekken 3 being one of the greatest fighters ever made. And, how can I forget Ace Combat?  That was an early mind blowing game, as well as Silent Hill and the Resident Evil series. The PS1 was an awesome system indeed.

And so, as we eagerly await the fifth PlayStation console, we also cross our fingers that today Sony announces its pricing, and perhaps even a surprise launch game announcement. It would be fitting, the PlayStation’s 25th anniversary deserves it.

By Samuel Rivera

Avid Video Game player, and Book Reader. Samuel has been playing video games for the last 31 years. He has played nearly every PS1 JRPG known to man, and loves Ocarina of Time more than any other game.

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