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Original PlayStation Launch Remembered by Video Game Pioneers

September 15, 2015Written by Mark Labbe


Twenty years ago, the original PlayStation console hit North America. It’s anniversary was celebrated by a major sale on the PS Store, and to celebrate it further, a few industry pioneers have given their thoughts on the system’s launch.

When asked for his thoughts on the early console, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida discussed his excitement to work on an early prototype of the system.

The first real-time demo on the early prototype hardware, I believe, was a group of cubes, spheres and triangular pyramids floating in the screen, changing from flat shaded colors to Gouraud-shadedcolors to texture-mapped polygons.  To me it was like looking at magic performed in front of my eyes.

We were beyond excited as we knew we were working on something groundbreaking, something that would make people around the world enjoy the hottest games developed with 3-D real-time graphics.  Games like Ridge Racer were only possible to play in the arcade before the original PlayStation was released.

Meanwhile, Naughty Dog Co-Founder Andy Gavin talked about working on Crash Bandicoot for the PlayStation.

I remember the rumors (that Sony might enter the industry). Then there was the whole failed collaborative PlayStation-Nintendo CD thing we were reading about a year or two before that turned into the PlayStation.

In August or September 1994, we got really early developer kits for both the (Sega) Saturn and the Playstation. Most people were thinking the Saturn would be big because the Genesis had been.  The Sony is so much better. …  It was just a nice clean design and Sony was way more organized. After about a month with both machines we just took the gamble … and didn’t make Crash Bandicoot for (the Saturn).  The PlayStation was a straight-up game machine. The fact it was as 3-D for real and that it was on a CD was huge. The CD made all the difference for developers and for players.

Ken Kutaragi, former Sony Computer Entertainment CEO and the so-called “Father of PlayStation,” took a more technical route with his recollections:

In contrast to the word “workstation,” which is a high-end computer often used for work purposes, we hit upon the name “PlayStation,” in hopes to create the best computer system for “Play.”

Back when it was difficult for even expensive professional workstations to produce real-time 3-D graphics, it was a great accomplishment for us to come up with a consumer gaming system that produced smooth 3-D computer-generated visuals at 60 frames per second with minimal lag. Until that point in time, the world of video gaming was limited to a flat 2-D environment that only allowed up, down, left, and right movement, but this achievement brought in the concept of 360-degree “space.” I also think it was very important that we shifted our mindset from “adeptly create toys by utilizing ‘outdated technology’” to “develop and adopt state-of-the-art technology that is forward-looking for a gaming console.”

Optical discs had great potential as a form of distribution media for entertainment content, and it was our overall strategy to boldly adopt CD/DVD/Blu-ray as a standard feature for individual platforms not only for games, but also film and music. With this strategy, not only did the potential number of PlayStation-compatible games largely expand, but also the growth of new forms of media, such as DVD and Blu-ray, was accelerated thanks to the unparalleled expansion rate and the massive global install base of PlayStation platforms.

What are your own thoughts on the launch of the PlayStation in NA? To read more industry veterans give their recollections, check out the USA Today article.

[Source: USA Today]