More than Just Gaming
The Sony Playstation stands perhaps as the icon of the modern gaming world. It was revolutionary. It bridged the divide between the kids' game and the big boys' toy. It brought realism into gaming. It brought entertainment to a whole new level.
But the road to Playstation greatness was not as seamless as its graphics, the cornerstone of its success. Started initially as collaboration between consumer electronic manufacturer Sony and then gaming giant Nintendo, both companies from Japan, the project was marred with controversy, betrayal and scandals.
The rest, they say, is history. Nintendo, wanting a bigger stake in the project, dismissed Sony in mid-air and partnered with Philips to pursue its own gaming platform. Sony, left on its own, forcing itself to develop its platform and its technology. Nintendo pursued its tried and tested cartridge-based games while Sony pursued the CD ROM medium. In no time, we all knew who won and who is lording over the gaming world. Eat that Super Mario. Eat my dust Sonic the Hedgehog. Here comes Sony's Lara Croft, Final Fantasy and Crash Bandicoot. And it is a whole new ballgame.
At its early years, Playstation cornered close to half of the gaming console market in the world, selling more than 80 million units for its first version. PlayStation 2 and Playstation 3 followed, more powerful, more detailed in graphics and more exciting when it comes to new games. It was a long leap from the day Playstation genius Ken Kutaragi bought his son with ironically, a Nintendo Family computer, and realizing the vast potential of the gaming craze.
The gaming console not only brought games into bedrooms and living rooms. It was a pillar of the whole new Sony entertainment system invasion of homes, from television, audio equipment and gaming console, centralized into one brain-unit. Many others saw the potential and followed, even Microsoft introduced Xbox to combine with its dominance in personal computer operating systems and keep its hold on the homes. Sega tried to make a run for it with Saturn and Nintendo, left to crawl with envy fought back with Nintendo 64.
But Playstation was quicker to the draw, again. It signed agreements with the best game makers around, Namco (Ridge Racer), Enix (Dragon Quest) and the Square (Final Fantasy), leaving the competition behind. Sony then launched a price war and with its deep pockets brought Sega down. Nintendo was left to fight it out but was later outmuscled because of the titles that Playstation carried and the sheer cost-effectiveness and capability of that round slivery-disc.
Sony envisioned the console as the central entertainment system of the home. The DVD playback capability of Playstation was not there without a purpose. Sony wanted the Playstation of the future to be the one-stop entertainment shack of the home. That is why perhaps Bill Gates and Microsoft got threatened as the personal computer could be outmoded by the sleeker console, and so they launched the PC game graze and later on, the Xbox.
At present, Sony is already working on inter-operability systems to allow the gaming consoles to operate with, say, Panasonic television sets. It also has its feet on developing a 3D engine for a total entertainment package. Perhaps, Playstation is the one development that will make Sony's long dream of bringing great entertainment into every home, a reality.
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