We’re all living in a PlayStation world.
Twenty years ago, Sony released its first console and changed the industry forever. GamesBeat already talked about its rough launch line-up and its five most important games. Today, here are three ways the original PlayStation changed the gaming world.
The industry usually gives Nintendo the most credit for creating controller conventions. The company did popularize standards like the D-pad, four face buttons organized in a diamond shape, shoulder buttons, and the analog stick. However, the PlayStation set the pattern for controllers.
While most controllers only had one or two shoulder buttons, the PlayStation had four (L1, L2, R1, and R2). This has becomes standard much every gamepad since.
More important, Sony released a new controller for the system in 1997 called the Dual Analog Controller. This was the first modern gamepad thanks to the innovation of two analog sticks. This allowed for greater camera control in action and platforming games, and it also made shooters much easier to play on consoles.
It proved that discs were the future
The PlayStation was not the first disc-based console. The Sega CD, Sega Saturn, CD-i, and more all came before it. However, it was the first successful system to use CDs instead of cartridges. That support allowed the console to play audio CDs, a feature that the cartridge-based Nintendo 64 couldn’t replicate.
Sticking with cartridges would hurt Nintendo in other ways, as CDs were cheaper to produce and had higher storage limits, which attracted a lot of third-party publishers. This is one of the reasons that franchises that used to stick with Nintendo, like Final Fantasy, fled to the PlayStation brand. These days, all consoles use discs (and digital formats).
It showed the world that gaming wasn’t a two-company competition
In the early part of the ’90s, gaming was all about Nintendo vs. Sega. The companies had become so established that it was hard to imagine anyone else entering the industry. Some tried, like the 3DO, CD-i, and Atari Jaguar, but they all died quick and unceremonious deaths. It seemed like Sega and Nintendo would remain gaming’s future.
But the PlayStation changed that. It became a success story that easily outsold both the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 (eventually selling over 100 million systems). Within the span of one console generation, a new company entered market — and became its leader.
This had a significant impact on the industry. Sega, through a combination of its own blunders and its inability to compete with PlayStation, would eventually become a third-party publisher without any hardware. Microsoft, seeing that it was possible for an outside company to enter the console market, would release its Xbox system in the next cycle. That brings us to today, a world that talks about Sony vs. Microsoft instead of Nintendo vs. Sega.