The Sony PlayStation ushered in the era of 3D gaming. Though the Super FX chip was put to use in a couple of Super Nintendo games (Star Fox and Vortex), the Super Nintendo was limited by its hardware to produce anything more sophisticated. The PlayStation was more powerful and powered by CD-ROMs that could house far greater amounts of data than cartridges.
Nintendo’s successor to the Super Nintendo and direct competitor to the PlayStation was the Nintendo 64 (N64), released in 1996. While the N64 was technically superior to PlayStation, it was severely limited by its use of cartridges. PlayStation was able to utilize Full Motion Video cutscenes and CD-quality audio on top of allowing for a streamlined game development environment.
While Nintendo has been and likely always will be arguably the best first party developer, its lack of third-party support has been a trend it has been unable to shake for the better part of two decades. Squaresoft, one of the most prolific third-party developers of the 1990s, developed Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy IX exclusively for the PlayStation because their vision could not be executed on Nintendo’s cartridge-based Nintendo 64. Meanwhile, Nintendo was perfectly capable of crafting genre-defining titles such as Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the N64.
Sony is credited with cementing CDs as the go-to console gaming medium and changing the public’s perception of who gamers are. Accessibility became one of the PlayStation brand’s greatest strengths, on both the developer and consumer fronts. Sony gathered insurmountable momentum that solidified its position in the video game industry.
The original PlayStation would go on to sell over 104 million units by the time it was discontinued in 2006. The PlayStation 2 launched worldwide on March 4, 2000, and would go on to be the best-selling video game console of all time, selling over 154 million units before it was discontinued on January 4, 2013. The PlayStation 3 was released in November 2006 and has since sold over 80 million units. The PlayStation 4 launched on November 15, 2013, becoming the fastest selling console of all times, with 1 million units sold in well under 24 hours.
The Nintendo 64 would sell only 33 million units before its discontinuation in 2003. The Nintendo GameCube, released in November 2001, would sell only 21 million units before being discontinued six short years later in 2007. The Wii marked Nintendo’s return to explosive console sales with over 100 million units sold and counting. However, Nintendo’s newest home console, the Wii U, has been on the shelves since November 2012 and has only sold 4 million units, though some of the highest rated games of the last year have been exclusive to Nintendo. The third party support that PlayStation began to rally with their original PlayStation is stronger than ever with the PlayStation 4. Nintendo’s third party support is nearly nonexistent, leading to a wider variety of games on the PlayStation 4, allowing games to be more accessible to a wider audience, just as they had done with the original PlayStation.
The Saga of Sega