By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

Forums - Sony Discussion - Why was the PS1 so successful despite being a newcomer?

Atari and Commodore died, leaving Europe open for the taking.Then SEGA panicked and rushed out a console. Then SEGA lost the head of SEGA of America and later the president of SEGA. Leadership went into chaos. Meanwhile, Nintendo took a long while to get the N64 out and Gunpei Yokoi quit and went to Bandai before ultimately dying, leaving Bandai without much of a plan.Sony had a gigantic focused marketing budget and almost no competition.

And the Playstation dropped in price quite fast and it was a CD player as well. A much better deal for people to buy rather than buying a seperate CD player.

Around the Network
javi741 said:

The PS1, despite being Sony's first foray in the video game industry sold an amazing 102.5 Million Units and is still the 5th best-selling console of all time and 3rd best selling home console of all time. 

To me looking back it seems surprising to me that the PS1 did as successful as it did being Sony's first time in the video game business and pretty much killed the huge console brand Nintendo at the time beating the N64's 33M with the PS1's 102M. Nintendo was so big at the time to the point where video games were just referred to as a "Nintendo" from what I heard and for Sony to just easily take that throne from Nintendo seems quite amazing to me even to this day.

To those who lived and experienced the 90s, when did you first hear about PlayStation and what made you immediately trust Sony with the PS1 enough to buy one? And did you skip out on the N64 for the PS1? What do you think made PS1 so successful to beat out the well known and dominant Nintendo brand at the time?

Yeah, people did refer to videogames as 'Nintendo' for a while. But this was primarily by parents, school teachers, etc, who did not understand the difference.
But this was also perpetuated (at least in my circle of friends) by most of us owning only Nintendo systems, and the ones that had a Master System or Mega Drive were the odd ones out, so because of that we often said 'Let's go home and play some Nintendo' because we would in fact be playing on a Nintendo.

My first time hearing about Playstation was in gaming magazines leading up to the release of PS1 and N64. I remember FF7 ending up on PS1 was a big deal as it was hyped up all the time. But so were the screenshots of Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. So, I did in fact not 'immediately trust Sony with the PS1', and instead asked mom to get me an N64. Which turned out to be a bit of a mistake.

I remember the first time I tried a PS1 in a toy store. It had demos of various games, and I tried Wipeout and Battle Arena Toshinden. PS1 came out 1,5 years before N64 in EU, but I still thought the N64 would just be straight up better than PS1 because it's 64-bit instead of 32-bit, and has some of my favorite franchises on it.

But I soon came to realize that the vast majority of my favorite franchises or even genres from the SNES days went to PS1 instead. I was mainly into JRPGs and fighting games at the time, and there was almost none of that on N64, while there was an abundance of them on PS1. Especially if you had a modded PS1 and could play burned or bootleg discs, which some of my friends had. So while I was stuck with an occasional game because they cost so much (I think I ended up owning around 12 games for N64), my friends were swimming in games that they imported for $1 each, or burned for free.

I remember also being intrigued by the CD technology for PS1 enabling it to have demo discs with multiple games that they gave away for free with gaming magazines. There was nothing like that for N64 because cartridges were so expensive.

This was also around the time I noticed that videogaming became a more casual thing, and people that usually didn't know about, let alone talk about, videogames now knew what Playstation was. Girls at school were talking about it, which was crazy to think of back then.

I did play a lot of games on my friend's PS1s, but because there were a lot of games I wanted to play by myself like JRPGs, I decided for the next generation that I would buy a PS2 because it's backwards compatible. And it was obvious that PS2 would continue to dominate in terms of new RPGs and fighting games even that generation, so I got that system, and it has been my preferred system ever since that I always buy. While with Nintendo's home consoles I'm usually uncertain, and wait it out and see how it goes first. Which lead to me skipping Gamecube (because I played Melee all the time on my friends GC anyway), Wii and WiiU. I don't have a Switch of my own yet either, but that's mainly because I still have a lot left to play on PS4, and my girlfriend has a Switch so I can play on that one if I want.
I did get the 3DS though, because it had a lot of Jrpgs and Pokemon, etc that I wanted to play.

Nowadays, the same crowd I mentioned before refer to gaming as 'Playstation' in some countries.

Last edited by Hiku - on 19 November 2020

Me seeing ads for Final Fantasy 7: "Whoa, this looks amazing!  I can see why they skipped 4,5 and 6 and went all the way to 7."

Me trying Mario 64 at a friend's house: "This doesn't even look like a Mario game.  Why do I put my hand on the middle thing?  Why do I need this stupid stick?  Why did they put a button underneath the controller?  What the fuck!?!"

Mix of quality games and competition breaking all levels of stupidity you can imagine for a gaming company

Plus Sony was open to take a risk entering in european market full force, a market Nintendo and Sega pretty much neglected. It paid them so well other companies can barely compete with Sony in Europe until today

Definitely Sony getting 3rd party deals like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid, among many others that never made their way to N64. A combination of Nintendo’s cartridge format being limiting and Sonys love for moneyhats.

Xbox: Best hardware, Game Pass best value, best BC, more 1st party genres and multiplayer titles. 


Around the Network

I can't tell about the rest of world, but for sure in Italy it's easy to understand.
- Better marketing: lots of ads during prime time in most popular evening shows.
- Better distribution: PS games were avaliable in almost all small to large computer and electronics shops, while N64 was distributed by a local toy company and its avaliablilty was much more limited and restricted to toy shops
- The price difference for games was insane (due to both cartridges and intermediation costs I think), I remember some new N64 game could cost up to 3 times a new PS1 game.
- Language barrier: the PS1 was the first console with full localization on all titles, when I was a kid it would have been impossible for me to play a game like FFVII or MGS in english.
- Of course 3rd party support
- The value of having a CD player. That could seem irrelevant but it was a big deal at the time.

The PS1 tapped into a new age group for console gaming. Smart marketing, more 'mature' games and the (unintended) ability to pirate games made it a great success. The ps1 was promoted in night clubs in Amsterdam where you could play GT1 while chilling out.

Nintendo was still seen as a kids toy, plus cartridges were far more expensive and no piracy. PCs were still very expensive to game on. In Europe PS1 basically took the Amiga crowd when Commodore became less popular.

As a former Nintendo fanboy, it just wowed me. At first I was probably like many gamers, "What the hell is this PlayStation with it's stupid looking controller." I was 100% going to get a N64, probably Ultra64 at the time. But, I 2ent over to a friend's house and his nephew was there with his PS1. I kinda scoffed at first. But then I actually tried it. The controller felt so good. Then, I played Tekken, Alien Trilogy, and some helicopter game. Watching the cinematics blew me away. As did playing those fun games with that controller. Ever since that day, I've been a PS fan.

Strong 3rd party support
Quality 3rd party games
Better adverts
Better games

Firstly, as a European, Nintendo was neither dominant nor well known. Sega actually won the 4th gen in Europe, and yeah... the Megadrive didn't exactly do well anywhere, so that shows how little presence Nintendo had. Sony likely beat Nintendo on brand awareness. I mean, Nintendo were barely relevant, and while Sony may have been new to gaming consoles they were already a big electronics manufacturer so they would have beat Nintendo in that category anyway.

Plus, it being a newcomer wasn't really a factor. I mean, it was just a good console with a tonne of great games at an affordable price with negligible competition. Any console would have done well in those circumstances. Those are largely the circumstances that saw the Xbox 360 do so well too. Together they just show that 1st console or 2nd console doesn't really matter, do things right and you'll do well.