What if the Playstation Never Existed?Scott Steinberg
The reality: Launched on September 9, 1995, the original PlayStation quickly became America’s best-selling console. Popularizing CDs over game cartridges and promoting adult-oriented subject matter above kid-friendly content, the machine all but monopolized the videogame market. To date, more than 100 million PlayStations have sold worldwide, while the PlayStation 2 is on track to exceed those sales.
The alternate reality: “It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without it today,” says Richard Ow, senior analyst for the industry-tracking NPD Group. “The PlayStation is one of the primary reasons gaming became a $10 billion business.” Had the device not debuted, he suggests, the 16-bit war between Nintendo’s Super NES and Sega’s Genesis systems would’ve continued well into the next cycle of hardware. Systems such as the 3DO, Jaguar, and Neo•Geo may even have thrived up until the late ’90s. Moreover, it’s all but certain that GameCube’s greatest rival in the struggle for your disposable income would’ve been found in a second-generation Dreamcast. Another fun fact: It’s also doubtful the Xbox would exist if Sony’s groundbreaking unit hadn’t sparked gaming’s mainstream success and caught Microsoft’s interest. “We’d still be seeing a two-horse race going on in the industry,” Ow says.