It's rare for a company to have such a strong entry into the games market as Sony did with the original PlayStation. What started as a collaborative project with Nintendo in the late '80s soon turned into its own product, taking the market by storm in 1994 in Japan and much of the rest of the world the following year. In March 1999, Sony told investors that it had shipped 54.42 million consoles, a figure that went north of 70 million over the following 12 months.
But the people heading up Sony's brand new video game venture knew that it wasn't enough to just do well the once -- you needed to land another smash hit in the bag before you could consider yourself successful. Going into the PlayStation 2's launch, there was a degree of trepidation among Sony's leaders, all of whom had been in the industry for a while and knew what a fickle beast it could be.
"It was always in the back of my mind," says Chris Deering, who was Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) Europe's boss at the time. "If PlayStation was ever successful, the real proof would be to have the follow up come out and do as well or maybe better."
"We were cautious because it was very rare that the leader of one generation could hold that position in the next"
Jack Tretton
Jack Tretton, who was heading up SCE US, adds: "Everybody was euphoric coming off the success of PlayStation. We had set the bar high but it really exceeded our expectations. Going into PlayStation 2, we were certainly confident, but we were also cautious because it was very rare that the leader of one generation could hold that position in the next. There was a great deal of trepidation not to get caught up in our success and to make sure that we redoubled our efforts going into the next generation."
The original PlayStation had been targeted towards a broad audience. There was promotion aimed at bringing kids on board, like the goofy and colourful Society Against PlayStation commercials, as well as marketing like the rather gruesome print ad featuring two women with bleeding noses for WipEout. For the PS2, however, SCE wanted to bring in a more mature audience. This was part of the reason why Twin Peaks creator David Lynch was hired to make the unsurprisingly bizarre The Third Place trailer.