11

Sega and Nintendo were the dominant players in the console market at the end of the 1980s and into the 90s. By early in the next decade, Sony shipped the PlayStation 2, leading Sega to exit the console market altogether, and dramatically cutting into Nintendo's dominance.

But before the first PlayStation was announced, overtures were made, and there was serious negotiation and work on joint ventures to produce a Sega/Sony console or a Nintendo/Sony console.

In hindsight, it seems like both Sega and Nintendo could have wound up much better off by cooperating with Sony, rather than competing with the PlayStation. How far did these partnerships get, who rebuffed whom, and why?

8

There was a relationship between Sony and Nintendo starting in 1988 and into the early 1990s as someone in Sony was looking to get into the video game business after seeing how successful the Famicom was. Agreements were made with Nintendo to produce a CD-ROM technology add-on and work was started.

Prototypes were demonstrated in the early 90s which were compatible with the Super Nintendo, but also had additional capabilities based on some custom Sony hardware. Unfortunately, due to disagreements between Sony and Nintendo which mostly were around who retained the rights on the SNES-CD format, Nintendo pulled out and went with Sony's rival Philips for a similar component who would allow for Nintendo to retain their rights and tight control over content released for the device.

You can see more information at this wikipedia page.

From what I remember reading in books over the years, Sony was now sitting on this technology that they had developed and decided that they would take a gamble at going into the video game business. Ultimately with a few improvements this came out as the Sony PlayStation.

Now Sega did release a CD add-on for their popular Genesis console. However, I don't believe Sega ever had a relationship with Sony in the development of this device. The release of it, however, did coincide more-or-less with the development of the SNES-CD work. Sega's next console, the Sega Saturn, was CD-ROM based but I don't believe they ever leveraged Sony as they would have been a competitor by then.

One final note is that despite the development of the SNES-CD device, Nintendo did make the decision to not release any CD-ROM based devices until the release of the 2001 GameCube.

  • 1
    Interesting that the SNES-CD prototype was actually branded as a "PlayStation", Makes me wonder if Sony already knew they wanted to go it alone, and just allowed Nintendo to "save face" by rejecting the partnership. Also, while there are no known Sega/Sony prototypes, there must be something behind the rumors, right? – Brian H May 9 '17 at 19:05
  • I don't think the naming of the "Play Station" (yes, it was two words originally) would be any indication of wanting to go at it alone. The thing is, Sony wasn't interested in the video game market at first but perhaps eventually saw this as a means to ride on Nintendo's coattails. As for Sega, I've never read anything (that I recall) about them working with Sony. The most documented "troubled partnership" I've seen in regards to Sega was that the Dreamcast originally announced that it was going to use 3Dfx Voodoo chips but then backed out and went with the PowerVR chipset instead. – bjb May 9 '17 at 19:41
  • Sony was part of the MSX consortium and produced MSX machines, which were primarily popular for the pre-NES output of Konami, Hudson Soft et al. So they were in video games, just indirectly, in the same way as most of the other home micro manufacturers — home micros were the predominant way to play video games for much of the world during the '80s. – Tommy Feb 9 '18 at 19:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.