Twenty years ago today, Sony’s PlayStation console hit store shelves in Europe. This small subsidiary of some 30-odd people were just the beginning of what would grow into one of the biggest names in both console and handheld gaming. During a live Q&A session at EGX 2015 in Birmingham this past weekend, Shuhei Yoshida, president of SCE’s Worldwide Studios, revealed his thoughts on two decades of PlayStation.
With regards to the launch of the PS1, Yoshida admits he wasn’t convinced it would succeed, but being both a gamer and a little curious, he accepted a move from the computers area of Sony to the new PlayStation team. The ambition for the first console was unbelievable, Yoshida said, by taking the power of an expensive computer and putting it into a small, household machine. He also went on to recall that the queues outside shops were huge and rather unexpected.
Yoshida later became the account manager for the likes of Konami and Namco, who were a big name in 3D graphics at the time, and would shape that generation of gaming with games such as Metal Gear Solid and Ridge Racer, respectively. Yoshida went on to tell us that he thinks the games that defined that generation were Resident Evil, Final Fantasy VII, Wipeout and the aforementioned Ridge Racer and Metal Gear Solid games (with the recently released Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain being his favourite game of all time). Tomb Raider was also a game changer, with it being one of the first action-adventure games to use 3D graphics and paved the way for the high resolution 3D models we’re accustomed to seeing today.
Wipeout, Shuhei believes, is the game that showed video games aren’t just for children as many adults enjoyed playing it, too. Although SCE Studio Liverpool, who developed the game, have since closed their doors, Yoshida did say “never say never” when it questioned on a potential return of the series. Yoshida noted that any of the former Studio Liverpool employees are still employed by Sony – many of which are currently involved in PlayStation VR – so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assemble them again.
The CD player in the PS1 console was revolutionary, allowing music to be played by simply putting a CD into the console instead of a game. More importantly, it also meant high quality music could be integrated into games and read by the machine. Jump ahead to the PS2, and similarly, it was released with a DVD player when the popularity of that medium was at a high. Yoshida joked that the biggest selling PS2 launch title was The Matrix on DVD.
If he could go back to 1994 and tell himself something, Yoshida revealed that, first of all, he wouldn’t believe how far Sony and PlayStation have come. Secondly, he would help to prepare himself for the transition between the PS1 and the PS2 due to it being a difficult time that Sony were unprepared for.
Spending half an hour listening to Shuhei Yoshida talk about his experiences and the development of the original PlayStation was very enlightening. What we’ve covered today represent only a small portion of his overall presentation, so be sure to check back in the coming weeks to see what else he revealed about the PS2, the PS3 and the future for handheld gaming.
In the meantime, why not celebrate 20 years of PlayStation in Europe with our highlights video package above.