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PlayStation turns 20: Sony exec talks PlayStation's past, future, and relationship to PC and mobile gaming

John Gaudiosi | Dec. 5, 2014
As the PlayStation brand celebrates its 20th anniversary, Sony Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida reminisces on 20 years of Sony video games.

ps1 ps4

Depending on how old you are, you might not even remember a time when gaming existed without PlayStation, but Shuhei Yoshida--president of worldwide studios at Sony Computer Entertainment--has been with Sony since even before PlayStation launched on December 3 in 1994.

Back when Nintendo and Sega dominated the console landscape, Sony was considered a consumer electronics outsider by the industry. Yet the "upstart" PlayStation ended up selling over 102 million hardware units and introducing the games business to a 10-year life cycle.

Fast forward 20 years, and PlayStation 4 is the bestselling console of this current generation. Sony is marking PlayStation's 20th Anniversary in Las Vegas with a huge fan event dubbed PlayStation Experience. With PlayStation 4, Sony has the fastest-selling PlayStation in history. They're even commemorating the anniversary with a limited edition PS4--only 12,300 were made, in honor of the original PlayStation's launch date--with a custom design that harks back to the console that started Sony's rise to gaming glory. (Pictured at top)

Yoshida will be at the big event. He oversees all of Sony's global game studios, and he's involved in the development of new technologies like the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset . We had a chance to talk to Yoshida ahead of the festivities, and he explained why competition is a good thing for the entire video game industry--and why consoles still have a place amidst gaming PCs and powerful mobile devices in this exclusive interview.

PCWorld: How have you seen Sony evolve as a video game company over the last 20 years?
Yoshida: It's been an amazing journey. I still remember when we were working on PSOne before the launch. We were a total newcomer in the game industry and I was one of the small groups who visited Japanese publishers and the major companies at that time. Most of them were focused on the main business of Super Nintendo. Genesis was not that popular in Japan, and most of the other consumer game publishers focused on the 2D games market.

Namco was the exception. At the time they were one of the leading companies making use of 3D graphics technology for the arcade video game business. They had Ridge Racer and other games that are very popular in the arcade, but they were not able to use that IP or tech in the consumer market. They were the first, and a very strong, ally for PlayStation before the launch.

But the other major companies were very open to share their feelings about Sony, telling us that "The video game industry is different from your industry and it won't be easy." Some companies had management that told us if you sell a million units of PlayStation, we will consider making games for your hardware. So considering how we started, it's amazing when I meet people who are in their 20s and we talk about PlayStation games like Crash Bandicoot, which I was producer on, and PlayStation has become a synonym for video games. It feels like a very short journey for me and many of us involved because there is always something big that we were working. Over the course of the years, so many people in the world have enjoyed PlayStation as a part of their life.


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