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The PlayStation was Sony Corporation's first entry into the console market. The fifth-generation console is generally regarded as an industry success due to widespread adoption of the system by developers and publishers alike. The PlayStation entered the market at a time of a period of dominance from both Nintendo and SEGA, but was successful in dominating the market, and would later capitalize on this market dominance with the PlayStation 2. Today, the PlayStation has sold over 100 million units worldwide.
The PlayStation was the brainchild of Ken Kutaragi, a Sony executive who had just come out of the hardware engineering division at that time and would later be dubbed as "The Father of the PlayStation".
The PlayStation made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in June 1991 when Sony revealed its console, a Super Famicom/SNES with a built-in CD-ROM drive (that incorporated Green Book technology or CD-i). However, a day after the announcement at CES, Nintendo announced that it would be breaking its partnership with Sony, opting to go with Philips instead but using the same technology. The deal was ultimately broken by Nintendo after they were unable to come to an agreement on how revenue would be split between the two companies.
The breaking of the partnership infuriated Sony President Norio Ohga, who responded by appointing Kutaragi with the responsibility of developing a project to rival Nintendo.
At that time, negotiations were still on-going between Nintendo and Sony, with Nintendo offering Sony a "non-gaming role" regarding their new partnership with Philips. This proposal was swiftly rejected by Kutaragi who was facing increasing criticism over his work with regard to entering the video game industry from within Sony. Negotiations officially ended in May 1992 and in order to decide the fate of the PlayStation project, a meeting was held in June 1992, consisting of Sony President Ohga, PlayStation Project Head Kutaragi and several senior members of Sony's corporate board. At the meeting, Kutaragi unveiled to the board a proprietary CD-ROM-based system he had been working on which involved playing video games with 3D graphics. Eventually, Sony President Ohga decided to retain the project after being reminded by Kutaragi of the humiliation he suffered from Nintendo. Nevertheless, due to strong opposition from a majority present at the meeting, as well as widespread internal opposition to the project by the older generation of Sony executives, Kutaragi and his team had to be shifted from Sony's headquarters to Sony Music, a completely separate financial entity owned by Sony, so as to retain the project and maintain relationships with Philips for the MMCD development project (which helped lead to the creation of the DVD standard).
Some of the SCE staff involved in the creation of the PlayStation credit Sega AM2's Virtua Fighter, released in 1993, as inspiration for the PlayStation's 3D graphics hardware. According to SCE's former producer Ryoji Akagawa and chairman Shigeo Maruyama, the PlayStation was originally being considered as a 2D focused hardware, and it wasn't until the success of Virtua Fighter in the arcades that they decided to design the PlayStation as a 3D focused hardware.
The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, the North America on September 9 at $299 USD/$399 CND, 1995 and Europe on September 29, 1995. In North America, the launch titles were Toshinden, Twisted Metal, Warhawk, Philosoma, WipEout and Ridge Racer.
A sleeker, smaller version of the PlayStation was released called the PSOne in September 2000, around the time of release of the PlayStation 2. Sony continued this trend with the thinner, version of the PlayStation 2 called the PlayStation 2 Slimline in September of 2004.
Graphics Processing Unit
Sound Processing Unit
Officially there were five other competitors within the fifth-generation of consoles. However, the Bandai Pippin, the PC-FX and the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer did not offer significant competition in the worldwide market against the PlayStation. Long time industry giants Nintendo (with the Nintendo 64) and SEGA (with the SEGA Saturn) were the only "real" competitors that competed in marketshare and mindshare.
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Issue: SEGA Saturn's launch timeframe, and the battle for launching in North America first.
In contrast, even though the Nintendo 64 arrived over one year later in most regions (sometimes even more), it offered much stiffer competition than the SEGA Saturn with better graphics (the Nintendo 64 has a higher polygon output and more texture filtering on the GPU) and support for four players out of the box (A feature that the PlayStation can duplicate using the PlayStation Multitap). However, the Nintendo 64 was plagued by a limited line-up of games, and was never able to offer the variety of games that the PlayStation could offer.
In addition, the difference between Cartridges and CDs as a storage medium was becoming more apparent as developers started using more FMVs, something that CDs faired much better at handling in terms of storage space (A typical CD has 650 MB of storage space. In contrast, the largest Nintendo 64 Cartridge was 64 MB). This allowed many RPGs that span several disks that to be developed on the PlayStation.
In 1997, Sony released a developer's edition of the PlayStation called the Net Yaroze. The Net Yaroze came in various colors, such as black and blue. The Net Yaroze came packed with all these features and did not have a region lock or piracy check for homebrewed games, it and could also be used as a regular PlayStation. The port layout on the Net Yaroze was similar to the layout on a SCPH-100x or SCPH-700x motherboard.
Key first-party titles
Since Sony was a newcomer to the console world, their first-party franchises were not based on existing IPs. Sony wanted to show off as a hip, energetic brand with darker, edgier titles not seen on other platforms, and this is evident with their first party lineup.
Some of the more noteworthy Sony published titles include:
Major third-party titles
The key to Sony's dominace with the PlayStation brand was in their third-party support. Many of today's franchises originated from the PlayStation. The biggest coup for Sony was securing Squaresoft's support for the exclusive development of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation.
A group of PlayStation fans created the website PSXDEV, which provides support for developers who still develop for the PlayStation platform. It also provides links to the PlayStation Development kit, tutorials in setting up the development system and developing games, and also provides downloads to homebrew games.