Next Wave Report: The Sony PlayStation


On September 9th, the wait for the PlayStation officially ended and the next phase in the war for videogames supremacy began. Japanese electronics giant Sony, while brandishing enough confidence to rival Kevin Reynolds' Waterworld campaign, unleashed its 32-Bit creature onto North American shores. For a competitive $299 suggested retail price, games players across the country can now own a sleek ticket to the next generation. This launch has hereby ended Sega's yet-unchallenged dominance of the high-end game console sector (Sorry, 3DO). The surprise launch of the Saturn allowed for a four-month head start in the 32-Bit race, and in the eyes of Sega's Tim Dunley, the impact among consumers has been significant.

By contrast, Sony VP of Marketing Chip Herman brushed off the notion that Saturn possesses any sort of lead. He explains, "Historically, the summer months are slow ones for the videogame industry. Couple that with the limited retail distribution with which Sega has launched Saturn, and we don't expect the early introduction of Saturn to affect our success at all." Indeed, as the big push for the holiday season heats up and the two giants pledge upwards of $40 million for two very different marketing strategies, the situation is in total flux. Other than Sony's obvious advantage in terms of pricing (Just ask Trip Hawkins how important pricing can be! -Jet), the battle will come down to the games themselves.

spotlightps1      spotlightps12

The Sony PlayStation                          PS-X Controller

Unlike 3DO, Philips, and the half-dozen other also-rans of the game biz, Sony has clearly devoted attention to producing hot original titles. Quality games is first on the agenda, a fact made evident by their excellent and varied launch window. The reorganized Sony Interactive Entertainment, formerly Sony Imagesoft, is hard at work generating the types of sales that drive up sales figures. On the back end, we at PPM have heard rather consistently that developing for the PlayStation is a total breeze. Compared to the complexities of the Saturn chips and the creative and financial limitations posed by Nintendo's cartridge-based systems, studios are over the moon exhaulting the PlayStation and its ease of access.

Crafting quality products is essential in driving up interest in a games console, but quantity should not be understated. The six initial Saturn titles and subsequent trickle of releases has, admittedly, been a touch disappointing. Gems like Panzer Dragoon and Daytona USA can only entertain for so long. Meanwhile, on Day One of PS-X availability, 11 launch games accompanied the system. Ridge Racer and Toshinden are two heavy-hitters, but other enjoyable entries including NBA Jam and Raiden Project prove there is plenty of room for everyone. Sony promises a steady stream of releases from here on out with the potential for 75 by the end of the fourth quarter. One we're incredibly psyched for is Mortal Kombat 3, which, due to a clever licensing agreement, will be a PS-X 32-Bit exclusive for six months.


[Article from the September 1995 Issue of PPM]


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