At the time, the PSone was already available in Japan, where it was nearing an install base of approximately one million units. However, many of its rivals still doubted the electronics manufacturer’s ability to dominate the gaming industry; what could the Walkman maker possibly ever know about video games? As part of a famous speech at the Los Angeles convention, Icelandic executive Olaf Olafsson – who was in charge of the company’s hardware and software divisions at the time – attempted to answer that exact question.
It was Sony drawing a line in the sand, and it would ultimately go on to crush the competition as a consequence. In fact, moments earlier on the exact same day, SEGA of America boss Tom Kalinske had just announced that the SEGA Saturn – the PlayStation’s biggest rival at the time – would retail for the somewhat steeper sum of $399.99 – and would be available that very afternoon. It was the Sonic the Hedgehog creator’s greatest trump card, but it ended up backfiring, with retailers not prepared for the premature release – and the launch lineup ending up light.
Meanwhile, with the Ultra 64 still some way away, Nintendo used the inaugural E3 as an opportunity to promote the Virtual Boy, which would release a few months later. Various demos – including a cancelled Star Fox game – were shown for the device, but after failing to set cash registers alight, the bizarre head-mounted machine was discontinued some six or so months after its full North American release.
In the early 90s, the Consumer Electronics Show had been the home for gaming – but with an attendance of 38,000 and over 700,000 square feet of floor space, the industry finally had the dedicated home that increasing sales suggested that it deserved. This year will mark the 21st event in the convention’s storied history, and while SEGA may be skipping it for the first time, PlayStation’s presence will be as strong as ever.