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Celebrating 20 years of PlayStation

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Something big happened yesterday. Remember that iconic disc-spinning console that defined many of our teenage years? The one that you spent hundreds of hours smashing enemies with Knights of the Round in Final Fantasy VII, or mastering Bryan Fury’s 10-hit combos against your best friend in Tekken 3? Remember battling demonic monstrosities in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night‘s inverted castle, or teaming up with a bud for some top-down dungeon crawling in the original Diablo?

Of course you do; how could you ever forget?

Well that gaming system turned 20 years old yesterday. Has it been that long already? My how time flies when you’re having fun.

To celebrate two decades of PlayStation gaming, Sony (NYSE: SNE) crafted a special PS4 to mark the occasion. The 20th Anniversary Edition PlayStation 4 mirrors the classic PlayStation’s color scheme perfectly, painted in the cool grey we know and love. This new iteration is pictured with a PS4 console, a DualShock 4 controller, a PlayStation Camera and a stand, so we’re assuming that’s what is included in the set. But the best detail of the retro-style PS4 is only spotted when you look up close. All across the console’s surface are hundreds squares, X’s, circles and triangles indented into its surface: the four-button medley that represents fun. The DualShock 4 is also stylized to match the original superlight non-analog PlayStation controller and features an altered PS button colored in the logo’s instantly recognizable red-yellow-blue-turquoise scheme. The touchpad also has the signature face buttons emblazoned upon its glossy surface.

According to the PS Blog there will be “very limited supplies” of the 20th Anniversary PS4’s, and taking a gander at the unboxing video above reveals there may be as little as 12,300 units available. Pricing hasn’t been revealed, but the default PS4 is $399 with the PS Camera. Pre-orders for the special edition PlayStation 4 will start Saturday, Dec. 6th, and specific details will be announced during the PlayStation Experience keynote in Las Vegas. To give justice to 20 years of PlayStation, we have to take a journey through the annals of gaming history, beginning with the namesake console that started it all.

20 Years of Play: An Indomitable Legacy

On December 4, 1994 the PlayStation was launched in Japan. Over the next year it made its way to the rest of the world, ushering in a new era of entertainment to gamers everywhere. Right from the start the PlayStation was a game changer. It could play CD’s, it was accessible, portable, and had a simplistic design–and I still remember using a converter chip to play Japanese imports like Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout on my system. Over the next few years the console was armed with titles–CD-ROM discs no less!–that soon established the PlayStation as a titular icon of the fifth generation of console gaming.

Games and franchises like Final Fantasy VIICrash BandicootTekkenResident Evil, Gran Turismo and Metal Gear Solid were the walls that the house of PlayStation was built with, and all became immortal classics that are celebrated even to this day 20 years later. Right from the start Sony was on its game, and throughout the years it introduced a dazzling array of titles. Little did they know it at the time, but Sony had just helped build the foundations for modern gaming, starting a legacy that would last for decades.

PlayStation 2: The King of Sixth-Gen

On March 4, 2000 Sony unleashed its magnum opus: the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 2 was the powerhouse of the sixth generation of consoles, and remains the best-selling system of all time with an estimated 155 million units sold to date. The PS2’s popularity continued for almost 13 years, making it the longest-running console. Part of the reason for the console’s success was its amazing functionality. The PS2 was backwards compatible with original PlayStation games, and apart from that it could play DVD’s as well as CD’s, making it into a combination gaming and multimedia system.

The main reason the PS2 excelled was its gaming library, which totals up to nearly 4,000 games to date. The list of PS2 games is a mighty one: we had classics like Tekken Tag Tournament (still my favorite fighting game), Rockstar’s superhits Grand Theft Auto IIIGTA: Vice City and the gangster crime parody GTA: San Andreas, the beloved fan-favorite Shadow of the Colossus and Dave Jaffe’s landmark platform exclusive God of War. Other memorable games bring to mind the engaging and memorable J-RPG Final Fantasy X, the ultra-creepy bizarre horror hit Silent Hill II as well as Resident Evil 4 , Star Wars: Battlefront II, the lovable Disney mashup Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solids 2 and a smattering of Gran Turismo racing games–among hundreds and hundreds of others.

These games were the culmination of many of our formative years of gaming, and for many of us it kindled our respective beloved genres. This was the era of true gaming magic, and will always be remembered fondly by millions of gamers.

Even today the PlayStation 2 is enjoyed by many a gamer, and you can pick one up over at GameStop for just $50.

PlayStation 3: Sony’s Stutter-Step

Coming off of the enormous success of the PlayStation 2, Sony tried to go bigger and better with the PS3, but the system saw a lackluster launch due to its high $499 – $599 price tag. When the PS3 launched in November of 2006, gamers weren’t too keen on paying upwards of $500 for a gaming system. Even still there were many benefits to buying an early system, as first- and second-gen PS3’s could play select PS2 and PS1 games, which later iterations were only limited to PS3 games. The PS3 can also play Blu-ray discs, and utilized the same format for its games, allowing more content to fit on a single disc. DVD’s and CD’s were also playable.

And it introduced a breakthrough new innovation called Remote Play, which linked the console to a handheld PlayStation Portable (as well as PS Vita) gaming system. PlayStation Move was also refined to a fully-fledged interactive peripheral that mirrored a portion of the Wiimote’s functionality, allowing gamers to actually project virtual control across a number of games. Despite its high asking cost the system ultimately paved the way for Sony’s unified online ecosystem, being the first console to implement and utilize Sony’s landmark online service: the PlayStation Network.

With PlayStation Plus, the PlayStation Network’s premium membership service, gamers were treated with exclusive free content, which over the  years became the juggernaut of amazing value we know today. DLNA streaming allowed gamers to stream videos, pictures and music from other devices connected to their home network, effectively turning the console into an enhanced multimedia system. The PS3 also had an amazingly dynamic Xcross UI which made navigation a breeze.

But there were some stutters too. The console’s powerful Cell processor was incredibly intricate and complex, making it a nightmare for developers. Even still devs were able to craft some high-profile and memorable games for the PlayStation 3. Notable PS3 games include The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, Metal Gear Solid 4, the Resistance franchise, Elder Scrolls, the BioShock series, Fallout 3Demons SoulsInfamous games, Little Big PlanetKillzone titles, the Shadow of Colossus HD collection, Heavy RainRatchet and Clank, God of War 3, and the superlative artistic indie Journey.

Even with Blu-ray playback and a host of exclusives and cross-plat titles, the PS3 was eclipsed by Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox 360 in terms of sales and overall popularity. The system was a stutter-stop for Sony, but it allowed the company to work out the kinks to pave the way to the PS4. Thanks to a number of tweaks, iterations and price reductions, the PS3 remains very popular even a year into the current eight console gen. Although many new games are released on the PS3, there remains a huge back-catalog of yesteryear games for PS3 via PlayStation Plus’ free games per month, giving console owners plenty of titles to choose from.

PlayStation 4: Greatness is Here

The PlayStation 4 was released in November 2013 to much fanfare and acclaim across the gaming world, and quickly asserted itself as the dominant force in eighth console generation. Sony claimed its top-spot on the next-gen zenith and has remained there ever since. The PS4 represents the culmination of 20 years of growth and momentum for Sony as well as the center of a dynamic ecosystem of devices and entertainment.

As far as hardware, Sony’s modern console is a powerhouse. Armed with a customized APU that combines graphics and a CPU, the system can deliver native 1080p resolution and consistent frame-rates thanks to its 8GB of unified GDDR5 RAM memory. Developers benefit from the console’s computer-like x86 architecture, which essentially makes development much more friendly then the PS3’s messy infrastructure.

But power isn’t everything.

The PS4 sports a number of innovative exclusive features like Share Play, which allows you to stream or share control of a gaming session with a friend on PSN. Remote Play with the PlayStation Vita handheld returns in full force as well. Sharing is another big aspect of the PlayStation 4, and with the press of a button gamers can easily share screenshots or custom video across Twitter, Facebook and now YouTube. Media playback is there, but not in full force: DLNA is absent, but Blu-ray playback is in. Sony’s new update also introduced music playback via USB. No console is worth its salt without games. Sony has dropped the ball when it comes to first-party exclusives, with titles like The Last of Us: Remastered and the launch game Killzone: Shadow Fall picking up the slack for the abysmal launch of Driveclub and the lackluster Infamous: Second Son. 

But Sony has found a way around this by included exclusive content within multi-platform games. Destiny is a prime example, as PlayStation owners get access to guns and in-game activities that are locked for Xbox owners until 2015. Multi-platform games like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black FlagDragon Age: InquisitionCall of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto V, Destiny and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor prove to be big hits across the PS4 and all serve as great reasons to pick up the console. Sony has some big exclusives in the pipeline, with a new Uncharted sequel underway along with a host of planned reveals for this weekend’s PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas. Then there’s Project Morpheus, the PS4-ready virtual reality headset. And Sony is also bringing live TV to PlayStation devices via PS Vue. The Japanese console-maker has huge plans for the console that revolve around the PS4 being the nexus for a webwork of entertainment solutions, from gaming to TV and media playback. The PlayStation 4 has sold an estimated 13.5 million units to date and shows no signs of stopping, and there’s a good reason for that.

Conclusion

Over the last 20 years we’ve seen and peesonally experienced the evolution of the PlayStation brand, and it’s been a long winding adventure to say the least. All of us are responsible for building the brand as much as Sony, and for the past 20 years gamers have been

The legacy of PlayStation is responsible for some of the most iconic games in the history of the industry, and served as the home for countless hours of enjoyment for millions of players. The classic PS1 era was wholly instrumental and defined a number of key genres by cementing distinct frameworks into place–many of which are still used even today. It’s safe to say that the original PlayStation ultimately gave rise to the modern gaming console, bringing forth a new revolution in living room entertainment.

While the glory days for a lot of gamers took place during the PS2 era where microtransactions, DRM and DLC paywalls didn’t exist, the modern PlayStation age has its merits. But reliving those age-old classics is an adventure in itself, and its something that Sony has tried to capture with HD remakes and backwards compatibility with the yet-to-be-finished PlayStation Now service. So far nothing quite replaces old-school physical game libraries and the nostalgic thrill of firing up your old Final Fantasy VII saves from 1998 and taking on endgame bosses for the umpteenth time.

Sony will continue to form and evolve PlayStation as gaming and technology propel forward, and it’ll be interesting to see where the brand will take us in the next twenty years.

Original Author: Derek Strickland


This news article is part of our extensive Archive on tech news that have been happening in the past 10 years. Here at BSN we love to cover the best tech news, so be sure to visit our homepage for up-to date stuff. Additionally, we take great pride in our Home Office section, as well as iGaming news, so be sure to check them out as well.

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