Birthday Memories: Sony PlayStation Turns 15
September 9, 2010 Page 3 of 4
Was that the deliberate focus? Obviously it was the focus of the software, but was that a message that you pushed alongside the system? And how did you do that?
PD: I think it was the side benefit of the message. I don't think you can go out with a message that says, "Play games, you old people because you can be cool," but it was understanding what makes gamers tick. And if you remember, the campaign was "urnote" ["you are not ready".]
There was this fundamental truism that gamers love a challenge, and if you tell them they aren't good enough, they're going to find a way to prove to themselves and to you that yes, they are.
And so we threw down the gauntlet. "You are not ready" became a rallying cry. "You're not ready [for something] that's this sophisticated, that's this challenging, that's this fun," and it struck a nerve.
Again, I think this is something that we were always proud of, but for a group of people who were being sort of painted with "Oh, they don't understand this gaming category," we spent a lot of time understanding gamers and knew that it wasn't just what you said and how you said it. So, we buried codes in our ads...
This was, you know, probably before the internet, and people would talk about them and pass them on to each other. There was the triangle, square, circle, circle. "You know, that might mean something." All these things were in our print ads. If you slowed down the TV ads in slow motion, you could find some of these hidden communications that were going on.
So, we were having a conversation with the masses, but we were also having a sort of private conversation with gamers within our marketing, and it was usually successful. I think again, it led to just people thinking about PlayStation as a brand that was cool and that understood them as gamers, and so we got a lot of street cred for that.
And another big thing about the PlayStation obviously is that it really pushed 3D gaming to the forefront. The reason I ended up buying one -- I actually was a little skeptical because I was a big Sega fan, but I saw Ridge Racer. That sold me really quickly, and I ended up preordering the system. Were you concerned with the risk of moving to 3D or more excited about the opportunity?
PD: Definitely excited about it. And again, 3D was, you know, polygonal gaming, changing the graphical engines that developers can work with. And then of course what goes along with that is having the technology to have more storage capacity, and that's where the CD comes in.
And again, if you fast forward to, you know, 2006, when we launched PS3, even as we sit here today in 2010, we still have a huge competitive advantage with physical media. Now we've got Blu-ray, we've got the ability to put more power into the hands of the developers.
I think that when you do that, it's usually empowering to the development community. Then at the end of the day, those are the guys that are creating those experiences, whether it's Ridge Racer or Gran Turismo 5. You're going to get something that just blows people away because they haven't seen anything that looks or plays like that before.
So, we were not wary about that. We knew that this was going to be game-changing, and we were really excited about that.
Around the time of the launch of the system, Sony was more reliant on third-party. The big games at launch were Ridge Racer and Toshinden, which you guys published but wasn't published by Sony in Japan. Was that a concern? What are you thoughts about how that stuff went at launch?
PD: I actually have a vivid recollection of all that. Yeah, Ridge Racer was a big part of the launch. So was Battle Arena Toshinden. But here's something else that I think was one of the best-kept secrets of the launch.
Again, I mentioned Sony Imagesoft and the fact that they had yet to really distinguish themselves as a maker of terrific software for the Nintendo and the Sega platforms, and I'm really being polite when I say this. They had to distinguish themselves.
I mean, it was kind of the gang that couldn't shoot straight, and yet, like I said, in the early '90s, we really decided that we had to study the category and get better at this, and so we kept getting better and we kept working with those software teams.
A little known fact of the combination in that, you know, winter of '94, spring of '95, when they combined the Sony Imagesoft operation with the Sony Computer Entertainment operation, we actually found ourselves with two development teams. There were the guys from Imagesoft, and then there was the team that had been hired here to make first-party software.
And the team that had been hired here actually didn't distinguish themselves, and we did rely on third-party games like Ridge Racer and Toshinden. But the stuff that was being developed by Imagesoft that came out under the Sony Computer Entertainment label at launch, ESPN Xtreme Games, Twisted Metal, Warhawk, NFL GameDay, NHL FaceOff, all really important games to the launch and games that have gone on to be, you know, big brands in this category. Many of them -- I mean, ESPN, not so much.
I'm very proud of the fact that these guys had a chance to not only participate in a big way in the launch but really distinguish themselves and make a huge contribution.
Warhawk was a launch game and didn't get any sort of revival until the PS3. I think there was a lot of nostalgia for that with some of the people who had PS1s.
PD: Yeah. For sure. I mean, it was a great game on PS1. Again, that 3D experience, I remember shooting those tracer missiles into some of those towers you had to take out, and people were just blown away when we took so much footage and put it into our TV commercials.
Page 3 of 4