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The Rise Of The PlayStation: The Nintendo Deal That Went Bad

In the late 80’s and 90’s Nintendo was on the back foot to the Sega MegaDrive. Sega had the lead and also a lot of add-ons and functionality that Nintendo didn’t. Sega was the console aimed at the teens and was seen as the cooler brand. Nintendo knew it had to mix it up and get with the future and back in the early 90’s CD-ROMs were the future and seen as a desirable bit of kit for every gamer with a center parting. Nintendo wanted to get into the mix and release an add-on to the super Nintendo to show off cutting edge graphics, and so, it turned to Sony to manufacture the CD drive that would serve as both an add-on but also as a standalone console that could also run Sony licensed CD-ROM discs - and you think todays console market with PS4 PRO and XBOX ONE S variants is confusing!

Let’s rewind a little. Sony actually worked with Nintendo on the SNES before this crackpot idea came along. Sony helped with a chip inside the SNES and because of that a business relationship was born. Not everyone at Sony had the same view on videogames though, some executives at the company didn’t want anything to do with the medium as they thought games were toys and childish, so the Chip inside the SNES was made in secret by ‘Ken Kutaragi’ who later became a legend at Sony. When Nintendo wanted a CD drive they turned back to Sony as they felt they had done well with the SNES, so Ken - who was presumably in the dog house at Sony - got some cred back for landing a massive deal. 
The Identical Controller and Similar Console Shape Carry Across To Sony's Effort
The date was set, June 1991 was supposed to be the time to unveil the project to the press and public. Prior to this date though, Nintendo must have finally given the contract they signed a read and quickly decided they wanted out of the deal. They felt that the console they were working on with Sony, benefited Sony substantially more due to Sony having complete control over the Super Disc format they were developing. Sony carried on production of the system until June 1991 when Nintendo stepped out on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show. The Nintendo PlayStation was about to be revealed but instead of introducing the new project from Sony, Nintendo did a full swerve and announced a new deal with Phillips.

Once Sony finished shitting a brick, they vowed to finish the project and release it without Nintendo, presumably as some form of corporate revenge. As such the Sony PlayStation was born on December 3rd 1994 (with a middle finger aimed at Nintendo by keeping the project name). If Nintendo thought the console war with Sega was tough, shit was about to get real. Sony of course went on to do very well, and with the PS4 leading the current generation has now taken their place as leader of the market.

I guess the lesson is, be excellent to each other or you’re going to get owned. Take a look at the original prototype for the console which actually resurfaced last year confirming that this long discussed partnership was indeed the real deal.

Jake Buchanan | @HDD_Heart

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