Views from the launch­pad


“We do recog­nise Sony as a ma­jor player. It’s just that we’re con­fi­dent that we know videogames bet­ter than any­one, and we feel supremely con­fi­dent that at ev­ery tech­ni­cal turn the Ul­tra 64 is a su­pe­rior ma­chine to the PlaySta­tion, and will of­fer a greater gaming ex­pe­ri­ence.” When

who for 15 years served as Nin­tendo Of Amer­ica’s ex­ec­u­tive VP of sales and mar­ket­ing, said this in late 1994, Sony’s PlaySta­tion had only just been re­leased into the world, and even then only to the Ja­panese mar­ket. While at­tempt­ing to brush Sony’s of­fer­ing aside, in re­al­ity the state­ment re­vealed how se­ri­ously the game in­dus­try’s es­tab­lished play­ers were tak­ing this new com­pe­ti­tion. An as­pir­ing ri­val that sup­pos­edly falls so far short of the mark isn’t even worth the recog­ni­tion of dis­cus­sion in pub­lic. Only le­git­i­mate threats de­serve that kind of at­ten­tion.

Out­side of Nin­tendo, oth­ers were more gen­er­ous with their ap­praisals of Sony’s work, while also of­fer­ing their own warn­ings. “The PlaySta­tion is very strong, but Sony has ab­so­lutely no ex­pe­ri­ence in this mar­ket, and the games mar­ket re­ally is like no other,” Atari’s de­clared. “You can’t just come in and buy mar­ket share. You have to build it.”

And build it Sony fa­mously did. In this is­sue, 20 years on, we look at what the company’s fresh per­spec­tive brought to the game in­dus­try, via firstper­son ac­counts from peo­ple who were there at the time. It’s our big­gest fea­ture of the year, re­flect­ing the size of the im­pact PlaySta­tion had on play­ers, on game de­vel­op­ment, and on Sony’s com­peti­tors.

Com­pe­ti­tion is one of the cru­cial fac­tors keep­ing the videogame in­dus­try mov­ing for­ward, which brings us to our cover story. If you’ve been pay­ing at­ten­tion, you’ll have seen Elite: Dan­ger­ous on the cover of and No Man’s Sky head­ing up so it should feel ap­pro­pri­ate that we com­plete the tril­ogy with Star Cit­i­zen this is­sue. In our lead fea­ture, we talk to de­vel­oper Cloud Im­perium about its own spin on deep-space ad­ven­ture.

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