Sony and Nintendo:1991

After having started a fruitful cooperation with Nintendo in 1988 to develop the audio chip for the SNES, Sony became more and more interested in the video game industry and keen to explore new possibilities in the market.
As an extension of the previous agreement, Sony, still under the guidance of Ken Kutaragi, started developing a special CD add-on device, named Super Disc, for the SNES. This device would have allowed the system to play both cartridge titles and the upcoming breed of bigger CD-based games, with Sony retaining the rights for the latter. At the same time, the tech giant also started planning for its own CD-based and SNES-compatible console, code-named Play Station. At the June 1991 CES in Chicago, the new projects were finally unveiled to the public.

Sony’s growing interest in the video game market and its aggressive new plans, though, started to worry Nintendo. Realizing that they were losing control of the upcoming CD-ROM market in favor of their new “partner,” Nintendo decided to cancel the agreement with Sony right after the CES announcement and, instead,

A Play Station prototype as shown in a Japanese magazine. Note the cartridge slot on top to play SNES games. Like the 3DO and the Philips CD-i, the Play Station was meant from the very beginning to play not only games but also movies and other multimedia applications.

A SNES mounting the CD add-on prototype. The project was ultimately cancelled because Nintendo later decided to focus its energies on a completely new system, the Nintendo 64, instead of revamping the
“old” SNES.

signed a more advantageous deal with Philips14 for a similar SNES add-on. In this arrangement, Nintendo would retain all the rights from CD-based games running on their console.
This move, by completely removing Sony from the SNES scene, also seemed to kick out the tech giant from the whole gaming world for good. But Mr. Kutaragi was a firm believer in the upcoming possibilities for Sony in the video game and home entertainment markets. After struggling to keep the interest alive in spite of the disillusionment of several Sony executives, he was allowed to work on a completely new and SNES-independent system that was destined to change the gaming landscape for many years to come: the PlayStation.

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