We all remember our first game console. For me, it was the Sony Playstation. I can still remember opening it on Christmas Dinner and being unable to hook it up to the television. We called a local TV repair guy who was happy to leave his own family on the special to come out to help one young boy’s Christmas Day dreams come true. That Playstation provided a lot more good memories from then on and will always be my favorite console of all. Little did I know then what controversy had gone on behind the scenes in order to get it into production.
Sony is a worldwide renowned technology company. The company started by making radios and video players and today are dominant in the video game console market, the tv market, the video game market, the audio market, and much much more. They are also the leaders in the semiconductor market which despite not being consumer-facing generates a lot of revenue. However, there was a time when they knew nothing about making video games.
The Sony company started in Tokyo Japan and was originally called Totsuko in Japan but on an early exploring trip to America, they realized that Western people struggled to pronounce it. They chose Sony instead as it comes from the Latin term sonus, the root of sound, and close to the Western word ‘sonny’ to refer to a young boy. The word sonny had been adopted in Japanese culture for some time and sonny boys were seen as hip young men. The founders of Sony felt that sonny suited their personas perfectly.
The company had a lot of success but when they decided to enter the gaming market they opted to partner with Nintendo, the market leader at the time. They developed a CD-ROM attachment that was supposed to fit the soon to be released Super Nintendo. After considerable research and development on the product, Nintendo changed partners and opted to go with Phillips instead.
Sony then decided to use the Super disc for its own console and they unveiled the product in 1991. The original version of the console was a multimedia device that could fit Nintendo cartridges, audio CDs, computer CDs, and more. Yet the final release was paired back to only play computer games in CD version. This super disc technology was the key to Sony’s success. Game developers found it much easier to develop games in 3D for this technology compared to Nintendo’s cartridge system and so Sony was able to sign up large names like EA and Namco.
The PlayStation was finally released in 1994 and to all markets in 1995. By the end of 2003, the console had sold more than 100 million units. The popularity of the console means that Sony is now the largest video game console provider in the world and the second-largest video game publisher. Tencent is the largest video game publisher in the world and dominates the online market.
It is clear that the video game console world could have ended up entirely different. While Nintendo and Sony remain two powerhouses in the gaming world today who knows how big they could have been if they had continued to work together. Or perhaps it was the competition between the two companies that created the incredible consoles we have today. When Nintendo switched partners Sony became adamant about creating a product that could rival and defeat Nintendo. In doing so they pushed gaming to whole new levels and continue to do so today. The PS5 is the latest in Sony consoles and continues to push the boundaries of modern gaming.