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On PlayStation's 15th Birthday, Platform Claims 349 Million Consoles Sold

On PlayStation's 15th Birthday, Platform Claims 349 Million Consoles Sold

September 9, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

September 9, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Today, September 9, is the 15th anniversary of the PlayStation; including the original console and its two subsequent editions, the platform has sold 349 million hardware units and over 2 billion software units to date, the company announced today.

In today's Gamasutra feature, Sony Computer Entertainment senior VP of marketing Peter Dille reflects on the system's unusual, disruptive launch: "We sold more than [102 million] PS1s, went on to sell more than 146 million PS2s, put Sega out of the hardware business, established us as a household brand, [and] created a huge profit center for Sony Corporation," he says.

It all started with a bold move: Going maverick with an idea that was originally intended simply as a Nintendo peripheral, and implementing the optical disc technology in which Sony was one of the market leaders at the time.

It started, according to Dille, "several years in advance" of the PlayStation's 1994 Japan launch (it would see a U.S. release in 1995), and he remembers being called into then-Sony CEO Mickey Schulhof's office to learn the plan.

"He called me into his office -- and I never had got a call to Mickey Schulhof's office -- and he asked for my help to develop a press release announcing this thing called the PlayStation, which was going to be a peripheral to the Nintendo," Dille tells us.

That information has since come publicly to light, but as Dille highlights: "What Mickey was doing was in effect, negotiating with Nintendo in the press by saying, 'We're prepared to launch this thing on our own if you don't honor the agreement that we had with you,'" he says. "And I thought it was just fascinating to sort of watch this all go down and see how this high stakes game of poker was being played."

"And when Nintendo made their decision, they put out an announcement with Philips," Dille continues. "This was on the eve of CES, you might remember. At that very moment in time, Mickey and a number of senior executives at Sony, said, 'We're going to launch our own product, and we're going to compete to win.'"

Since then, the PlayStation platform has generated over $63 billion in revenue, according to Sony's announcement today. The company claims the equivalent of 40 percent of the overall video game marketshare in the U.S. to date.

The company will be offering fans several new initiatives in celebration of the brand's anniversary: It'll offer free downloadable static themes on the PlayStation Store, weekly discounts on titles in a "15th anniversary collection" in SCEA territories, and a commemorative PSone ornament in its PlayStation Home virtual environment on PS3.

The full Gamasutra feature interview with Dille provides a fascinating look back on the launch of an iconic brand as it turns 15 years old today.

[UPDATE: A previous version of this story cited a Sony press release that said the PlayStation family of hardware sold 377 million to date. But the company corrected that figure in a statement to Gamasutra, as 349 million units have actually been sold to date.

The discrepancy came from figures for the original PlayStation -- Dille originally stated in the Gamasutra feature interview that the console sold 130 million, but it has actually sold 102 million units. A SCEA rep that apologized for the company's error said that in any case, the 349 million-unit landmark "is clearly still an amazing accomplishment that we are incredibly proud of."]

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