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Thread: The Making of PlayStation

  1. The Making of PlayStation

    Top notch Edge article about how the Playstation came to be.

    Don't worry; it isn't a recapitulation of the SNES-Playsation story. There is some interesting stuff here.

    This pricing policy allowed SCEI to severely dent the fortunes of Sega’s Saturn in the US. Famously, Saturn was surprise-launched in the US at $399 during E3 on May 11, 1995, but the timing allowed Sony to immediately get the upper hand. Harrison was at Sony’s E3 press conference shortly afterwards: “Olaf Olafsson was doing the spiel about growth in the industry and droning on – it was deliberately staged that way. I can’t remember a single thing about his presentation, but he did say that he’d like to bring on stage the president of Sony Computer Entertainment America to share with you an important piece of information. Steve Race went up to the microphone, just said ‘299’, and sat back down again. The room erupted.” But staff at Sony’s corporate headquarters weren’t amused. “It was properly agreed, but word had not made its way back to Japan and there were parts of Sony scratching their heads in shock,” says (Chris) Deering. “I think Tokunaka got in trouble. It was a scary thing for them.”
    Elsewhere...

    Steve Race, a long-time executive for such companies as Sega, Nintendo and Atari, hired many ex-Sega employees for SCEA. “They went by the handbook of the old Sega business,” says Deering. “They limited the number of thirdparty releases, drove hard bargains – there were a lot of rough edges in treatment of thirdparties and had even been rough in approving products by Konami and Namco.” Race also played rough, as Harrison recollects: “At the Alexis Park Hotel in January 1995, where Sega held their CES party, Steve Race organised for every napkin to be printed with ‘PSX welcomes Sega to CES’! That was a fun moment, because these napkins were everywhere. [Sega Of America head] Tom Kalinske went totally nuts and demanded that all the napkins were purged from the hotel, quite reasonably so, but legend has it that later on in the party he was handed a beer with one of these napkins around it, and he exploded.”
    Last edited by Brisco Bold; 27 Apr 2009 at 01:17 AM.

  2. Very good stuff. I love the Steve Race $299 speech, story. I mentioned that briefly in my article too.

    It really was amazing how successful Sony was that quickly with the PS1. They went from an outsider to #1 seemingly overnight, during a time when people were becoming increasingly wary thanks to systems like the Jaguar, 3DO, etc.

  3. #3
    Good read, kind of like a shorter version of the book Revolutionaries at Sony. Sony's quick success with the PS1 never surprised me. They were the most well known name in electronics and I figured developers and buyers would be all over them.

  4. Quote Originally Posted by NeoZeedeater View Post
    Good read, kind of like a shorter version of the book Revolutionaries at Sony. Sony's quick success with the PS1 never surprised me. They were the most well known name in electronics and I figured developers and buyers would be all over them.
    Phillips was a big name in electronics too. I mean an electronics company had never really been successful in the game business before. I guess kinda NEC, but that was thanks largely to their partnership with Hudson.

  5. #5
    Yeah, but I trusted Sony knew what it was doing unlike Philips. I remember writing a paper for a marketing class in late '94. It was about the Genesis but we were supposed to add future market predictions. I remember saying Sega would fall hard, Nintendo would do okay, and Sony would become the new market leader. I have made many false predictions before and after that but from everything I read in the magazines back then, and with the presence of the Sony name (especially among adults in a market with a demographic increasing in age), I expected success from them.

    Of course, I didn't know anything about internal struggles with Sony or anything like that. It was surprising to later read about all the resistance Kutaragi faced from within.
    Last edited by NeoZeedeater; 27 Apr 2009 at 02:16 AM.

  6. I think by the time they launched I believed in Sony. Their pre-release marketing hype was huge. But I also remember shrugging it off when I first read about it, thinking it could never take on the establishment.

  7. #7
    It wasn't just believing in Sony for me. Sega as a company was showing signs of insanity by announcing the 32X and Saturn being on the market at the same time. It was looking like they were trying to sabotage themselves for the 16-bit and 32-bit eras. The Saturn did better in Japan than I thought it would, though.

  8. I remember seeing pictures of Wipeout, Twisted Metal, Destruction Derby, Toshinden and of course Ridge Racer. The 3D graphics looked so much cleaner compared to Saturn (especially after buying it for $400 in May 95), you felt that Sony knew what it was doing (so unlike the PS3).

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Frogacuda View Post
    Very good stuff. I love the Steve Race $299 speech, story.
    When I read that in Edge, the irony of going from $299 to $599 hit me hard.

  10. Amazing how Sony completely forgot why they won in the past isn't it?
    You sir, are a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.

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