Top: PlayStation logo, original model with DualShock controller.
Bottom: the smaller redesigned PSone.
|Developer||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Type||Home video game console|
|Generation||Fifth generation era|
|Discontinued||March 31, 2006|
|Units sold||Worldwide: 102.49 million|
|Input||PlayStation Controller, Dual Analog Controller, DualShock|
|Best-selling game||Gran Turismo, 10.85 million shipped (as of April 30, 2008)|
The PlayStation (officially abbreviated as PS, and commonly known as PS1 or PSX) is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. The console was released in Japan on December 3, 1994, and was released in North America and Europe in September 1995. The PlayStation is the first of the PlayStation series of consoles and handheld game devices. As part of the fifth generation of gaming, it primarily competed with the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn. In 2000, a re-designed "slim" version called the PSone was released, replacing the original grey console and named appropriately to avoid confusion with its successor, the PlayStation 2.
The PlayStation is the first "computer entertainment platform" to ship 100 million units, which it had reached 9 years and 6 months after its initial launch. Reactions to the console upon launch were favourable; critics praised the console for the quality of its 3-dimensional graphics. Then Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, preferred Sony's console to the competition from Sega's Saturn, saying "our game designer likes the Sony machine".
The successor to the PlayStation is the PlayStation 2, which is backwards compatible with its predecessor in that it can play almost every PlayStation game. The last PSone units were sold in winter of 2004 before it was finally discontinued, for a total of 102 million units shipped since its launch 10 years earlier. Games for the PlayStation continued to sell until Sony ceased production of PlayStation games on March 23, 2006 – over 11 years after it had been released, and less than a year before the debut of the PlayStation 3.
The first conceptions of the PlayStation date back to 1986 between a joint venture between Nintendo and Sony. Nintendo had been attempting to work with disc-based technology since the Famicom; their product was known as the 'CD-ROM/XA' - which acted as an extension of CD-ROMs that allowed for simultaneous access to compressed audio and video data on the discs, however the medium had problems. The Famicom Disk System's rewritable magnetic discs could be easily erased (thus leading to a lack of durability), and they lacked any sort of copy protection, thus were vulnerable to piracy. Consequently, when details of CD-ROM XA (which had neither of those problems) were released to the public, Nintendo was interested. Simultaneously developed by Sony and Philips, CD-ROM/XA was an extension of the CD-ROM format that combines compressed audio, visual, and computer data, allowing all to be accessed simultaneously. Nintendo approached Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on, tentatively titled the "SNES-CD". A contract was signed, and work began. Nintendo's choice of Sony was due to a prior dealing: Ken Kutaragi, the person who would later be dubbed "The Father of the PlayStation", was the individual who had sold Nintendo on using the Sony SPC-700 processor for use as the eight-channel ADPCM sound set in the Super Famicom/SNES console through an impressive demonstration of the processor's capabilities.
Kutaragi was nearly fired by Sony because he was originally working with Nintendo on the side without Sony's knowledge (while still employed by Sony). It was then-CEO, Norio Ohga, who recognised the potential in Kutaragi's chip, and in working with Nintendo on the project. Ohga kept Kutaragi on at Sony, and it was not until Nintendo cancelled the project that Sony decided to develop its own console.
Sony also planned to develop a Super Nintendo-compatible, Sony-branded console, but one which would be more of a home entertainment system playing both Super Nintendo cartridges and a new CD format which Sony would design. This was also to be the format used in SNES-CDs, giving a large degree of control to Sony despite Nintendo's leading position in the video gaming market.
The product, dubbed the "Play Station" was to be announced at the May 1991 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). However, when Nintendo's Hiroshi Yamauchi read the original 1988 contract between Sony and Nintendo, he realised that the earlier agreement essentially handed Sony complete control over any and all titles written on the SNES CD-ROM format. Yamauchi decided that the contract was totally unacceptable and he secretly cancelled all plans for the joint Nintendo-Sony SNES CD attachment. Instead of announcing a partnership between Sony and Nintendo, at 9 am the day of the CES, Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln stepped onto the stage and revealed that Nintendo was now allied with Philips, and Nintendo was planning on abandoning all the previous work Nintendo and Sony had accomplished. Lincoln and Minoru Arakawa had, unbeknownst to Sony, flown to Philips' global headquarters in the Netherlands and formed an alliance of a decidedly different nature—one that would give Nintendo total control over its licenses on Philips machines.
After the collapse of the joint-Nintendo project, Sony briefly considered allying itself with Sega to produce a stand-alone console. The Sega CEO at the time, Tom Kalinske, took the proposal to Sega's Board of Directors in Tokyo, who promptly vetoed the idea. Kalinske, in a 2013 interview recalled them saying "that’s a stupid idea, Sony doesn't know how to make hardware. They don’t know how to make software either. Why would we want to do this?". This prompted Sony into halting their research, but ultimately the company decided to use what they had developed so far with both Nintendo and Sega to make it into a complete, stand-alone console. As a result, Nintendo filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempted, in US federal court, to obtain an injunction against the release of what was originally christened the "Play Station", on the grounds that Nintendo owned the name. The federal judge presiding over the case denied the injunction and, in October 1991, the first incarnation of the aforementioned brand new game system was revealed. However, it is theorised that only 200 or so of these machines were ever produced.
By the end of 1992, Sony and Nintendo reached a deal whereby the "Play Station" would still have a port for SNES games, but Nintendo would own the rights and receive the bulk of the profits from the games, and the SNES would continue to use the Sony-designed audio chip. However, Sony decided in early 1993 to begin reworking the "Play Station" concept to target a new generation of hardware and software. As part of this process the SNES cartridge port was dropped and the space between the names "Play Station" was removed becoming "PlayStation", thereby ending Nintendo's involvement with the project. Sony's North American division, known as Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), originally planned to market the new console under the alternative branding "PSX" following the negative feedback regarding "PlayStation" in focus group studies. Early advertising prior to the console's launch in North America referenced PSX, but the term was scrapped before launch.
According to SCE's producer Ryoji Akagawa and chairman Shigeo Maruyama, there was uncertainty over whether the console should primarily focus on 2D sprite graphics or 3D polygon graphics. It was only after witnessing the success of Sega's Virtua Fighter in Japanese arcades that "the direction of the PlayStation became instantly clear" and 3D polygon graphics became the console's primary focus.
Industry hype for the console spread quickly, and in early 1994 GamePro reported that "many video game companies [feel] that in the near future, the video game platforms to contend with will be from Nintendo, Sega... and Sony." [emphasis in original]
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. The console was an immediate success in Japan, selling over 2 million units within its first six months on the market. The launch price in the American market was US$299 and Sony enjoyed a very successful launch with titles of almost every genre, including Battle Arena Toshinden, Warhawk, Air Combat, Philosoma, Ridge Racer and Rayman. Almost all of Sony's and Namco's launch titles went on to spawn numerous sequels. Unlike the vast majority of gaming consoles of the time, the PlayStation did not include a pack-in game at launch.
Critics praised the console for the quality of its 3-dimensional graphics. Then Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, preferred Sony's console to the competition from Sega, saying "Our game designer likes the Sony machine." Microsoft would later compete with Sony with its Xbox console. In a special Game Machine Cross Review in May 1995, Famicom Tsūshin would score the PlayStation console a 19 out of 40. An advertisement slogan used in marketing the console was, "Live in your world. Play in ours." It is stylised as, "LIVE IN YUR WRLD. PLY IN URS."
In addition to playing games, the PlayStation has the ability to play audio CDs (Asian model SCPH-5903 can also play Video CDs). The CD player has the ability to shuffle the playback order, play the songs in a programmed order, and repeat one song or the entire disc. Later PlayStation models can utilise a music visualisation function called SoundScope. This function, as well as a memory card manager, can be accessed by starting the console either without inserting a game or keeping the CD tray open, thereby accessing a GUI for the PlayStation BIOS.
The actual GUI for both PSone and PlayStation differ graphically depending on firmware versions: the original PlayStation GUI had a dark blue background with rainbow graffiti used as buttons; the early PAL PlayStation and PSone GUI had a grey blocked background with 2 icons in the middle, different on each version. If the CD lid is closed with a game inside at any time while at the menu, the game will immediately start.
As of June 30, 2007, a total of 7,918 software titles have been released worldwide (counting games released in multiple regions as separate titles). As of March 31, 2007, the cumulative software shipment was at 962 million units. The last game for the system released in the United States was FIFA Football 2005. However, several reprinted and remastered editions were released in later years. Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection was released on July 26, 2007, which contained Metal Gear Solid in the original PlayStation format. In 2011, Capcom released the Resident Evil 15th Anniversary Collection, and in 2012, Square Enix released the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box in Japan containing all of the Final Fantasy titles, a majority of which were in the PS1 format.
The OK and Cancel buttons on most of the Japanese PlayStation games are reversed in their North American and European releases. In Japan, the button (maru, right) is used as the OK button, while the button (batsu, wrong) is used as Cancel. North American and European releases have the button or the buttons as the OK button, while either the or the button is used as Cancel (some titles like Xenogears used the button for cancelling actions and selections, along with the PlayStation 2 system browser and the XrossMedia Bar on the PlayStation 3 and the PSP). However, a few games, such as Square's Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy VII (which used the button as cancel) and Final Fantasy Tactics, Namco's Ridge Racer Type 4, and Konami's Metal Gear Solid, use the Japanese button layout worldwide. Some other games, like the Japanese version of Gran Turismo, had used different controls that are similar to North American games. These Japanese button layouts still apply to other PlayStation consoles. This is because in the early years Sony America (SCEA), Sony Europe (SCEE), and Sony Japan (SCEJ) had different development and testing documents (TRCs) for their respective territories.
With the early units, particularly the early 1000 models, many gamers experience skipping full-motion video or physical "ticking" noises coming from their PlayStation units. The problem appears to have come from poorly placed vents leading to overheating in some environments—the plastic mouldings inside the console can warp very slightly and create knock-on effects with the laser assembly. The solution is to ensure that the console sits on a surface which dissipates heat efficiently in a well vented area, or raise the unit up slightly from its resting surface.
The first batch of PlayStations used a KSM-440AAM laser unit whose case and all movable parts were completely made out of plastic. Over time, friction causes the plastic lens sled rail to wear out—usually unevenly. The placement of the laser unit close to the power supply accelerated wear because of the additional heat, which makes the plastic even more vulnerable to friction. Eventually, one side of the lens sled can become so worn that the laser can tilt, no longer pointing directly at the CD. This would cause data read errors and games would no longer load. One common fix is to turn the PlayStation upside down, making the lens sled rest on the unworn top rails. Sony eventually fixed the problem by making the sled out of die-cast metal and placing the laser unit slightly farther away from the power supply on later models of the PlayStation.
Due to an engineering oversight, the PlayStation does not produce a proper signal on several older models of televisions, causing the display to flicker or bounce around the screen. Since only a small percentage of PlayStation owners used such televisions, Sony decided not to change the console design, and instead gave consumers the option of sending their PlayStation unit to a Sony service center to have a modchip installed, which would allow it to play on older televisions.
Prior to the PlayStation, the reproduction of copyrighted material for gaming consoles was restricted to either enthusiasts with exceptional technical ability, or others that had access to CD manufacturers. However, the increased availability of cheap CD burners at this time led Sony to introduce a special wobble pressed into PlayStation formatted discs. As a result, any discs that did not contain the wobble such as CD-R copies or standard pirated discs could not boot on the console.
The installation of a modchip allowed the PlayStation to play games recorded on a regular CD-R. It also allowed the console's capabilities to be expanded in other ways, such as playing games from other regions. By the end of the system's life cycle almost anyone with minimal soldering experience was able to perform these modifications. This created a wave of games developed without official approval using free, unofficial tools, as well as the reproduction of original discs. With the introduction of such devices the console became very attractive to programmers and illegal copiers alike, as well as those who merely wished to protect the lifespan of their lawful, original discs.
The PlayStation went through a number of variants during its production run. From an external perspective, the most notable change between variants was the reduction in the number of connectors. The RCA jacks were removed in the first revision, and the Parallel I/O port was removed in the final revision.
In 1997, Sony marketed a development kit for hobbyists also known as the Net Yaroze. The development console came with the necessary documentation and software to program PlayStation games and applications.
On July 7, 2000, Sony released the PSone, a smaller, redesigned version of the original PlayStation. It was the highest-selling console through the end of the year, even going on to outsell all other consoles throughout the remainder of the year - including Sony's own PlayStation 2 (yet the PlayStation 2 overtook this eventually). The PSone sold a total of 28.15 million units when it was discontinued in March 2006. A version of the PSone included a 5-inch (130 mm) LCD screen, referred to as the "Combo pack".
- CPU: 32-bit RISC MIPS R3000A (33.8688 MHz)
- MDEC (motion decoder) for FMV playback
- SPU (sound processing unit)
- RAM: 2 MB main, 1 MB video
- Graphics: GPU and Geometry Transformation Engine(GTE), with 2D rotation, scaling, transparency and fading, and 3D texture mapping and shading
- Colors: 16.7 million
- Sprites: 4,000
- Polygons: 180,000 per second (textured), 360,000 per second (flat-shaded)
- Resolution: 256×224 to 640×480 pixels
- Sound: 16-bit, 24 channel PCM
Sony's successor to the PlayStation 1 is the PlayStation 2, which is backwards compatible with its predecessor in that it can play almost every PlayStation 1 game. The third generation of the PlayStation, the PlayStation 3, was launched on November 11, 2006 in Japan, November 17, 2006 in North America, and March 23, 2007 in Europe. The backward compatibility of the PlayStation 3 differs by model. The newer PlayStation 3 models, like the slim are only backwards compatible with PlayStation 1 games, the older 60 GB model, the first, will play PlayStation 1 and 2 games. While PlayStation 3 games are not region-locked, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games are only playable on PlayStation 3 consoles from the same region. A third successor, the PlayStation 4, was announced by Sony on February 20, 2013 and was released in the US on November 15, Europe on November 29, 2013, and Japan and Asia on February 22, 2014. However, it is not backwards compatible with any of the earlier consoles.
The PlayStation Portable, or PSP, is a handheld game console first released in late 2004. The PSP is capable of playing PlayStation games downloaded via Sony's online store, and can also play any PlayStation game by using the PlayStation 3's remote play feature while the disc is in the PlayStation 3. Sony hopes to release nearly all PlayStation games on a gradual basis. It is also possible to convert original PlayStation disc images into executable binaries using freely available software. These games are then playable on PSPs that have been modified to run unsigned code.
The successor to the PSP, the PlayStation Vita, was introduced as a part of the 8th generation of video game consoles, and was backwards compatible with original PSP as well as PlayStation 1 games downloaded from the PlayStation Store.
Sony Computer Entertainment was an upstart in the video game industry in 1994, as the early 1990s were dominated by Nintendo and Sega. Nintendo had been the clear leader in the video game industry since the introduction of the NES in 1985 and the Nintendo 64 was initially expected to maintain this position for Nintendo. The PlayStation's target audience included 15 to 17 year olds who were not being courted by Nintendo, and 18 to 29 year olds, who represented the first generation to grow up playing video games. Their tagline "U R Not E" (The "E" was colored red, meant to be read as "Ready"), was meant to suggest games that appealed to an older demographic. Sony's focus on older players sidestepped the competition between Nintendo and Sega, which each commanded a sizable chunk of the 10 to 14 year old market. By the late 1990s, Sony became a highly regarded console brand due to the PlayStation, with a significant lead over second-place Nintendo, while Sega was relegated to a distant third.
The PlayStation's lead in installed base and developer support paved the way for the success of the next-generation PlayStation 2, which overcame an early launch from the Sega Dreamcast and then fended off competition from the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.
The success of the PlayStation is widely believed to have influenced the demise of the cartridge-based home console. While not the first system to utilise an optical disc format, it is the first success story, and ended up going head-to-head with the last major home console to rely on proprietary cartridges—the Nintendo 64.
Nintendo was very public about its scepticism toward using CDs and DVDs to store games, citing longer load times and durability issues. It was widely speculated that the company was even more concerned with the proprietary cartridge format's ability to help enforce copy protection, given its substantial reliance on licensing and exclusive titles for its revenue. Piracy was rampant on the PlayStation due to the relative ease of the installation of a modchip, allowing the PlayStation to play games region free and/or recorded on a regular CD-R, making the console very attractive to programmers and illegal copiers alike.
The increasing complexity of games (in content, graphics, and sound) pushed cartridges to their storage limits and this gradually turned off some third-party developers. Part of the CD format's appeal to publishers was due to the fact that they could be produced at a significantly lower cost and offered more production flexibility to meet demand. As a result, some third-party developers switched to the PlayStation, such as Squaresoft, whose Final Fantasy VII, and Enix (later merged with Squaresoft to create Square Enix), whose Dragon Quest VII titles were initially pre-planned for the N64; while some who remained released fewer games to the Nintendo 64 (Konami, releasing only thirteen N64 games but over fifty on the PlayStation). While new games were coming out rapidly for the PlayStation, new Nintendo 64 game releases were unusual and that system's biggest successes were developed by either Nintendo itself or by second-parties, such as Rare.
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