3 December 1994

The PlayStation was first released in Japan.


On December 3, 1994, the PlayStation was finally released in Japan, one week after the Sega Saturn. The initial retail cost was 37,000 yen, or about $387. Software available at launch included King’s Field, Crime Crackers, and Namco’s Ridge Racer, the PlayStation’s first certifiable killer app. It was met with long lines across Japan, and was hailed by Sony as their most important product since the WalkMan in the late 1970’s.

Also available at launch were a host of peripherals, including: a memory card to save high scores and games; a link cable, whereby you could connect two PlayStations and two TVs and play against a friend; a mouse with pad for PC ports; an RFU Adaptor; an S-Video Adaptor; and a Multitap Unit. Third party peripherals were also available, including Namco’s Negcon.

The look of the PlayStation was dramatically different than the Saturn, which was beige (in Japan), bulky, and somewhat clumsy looking. In contrast, the PlayStation was slim, sleek, and gray, with a revolutionary controller that was years ahead of the Saturn’s SNES-like pad. The new PSX joypad provided unheardof control by adding two more buttons on the shoulder, making a total of eight buttons. The two extended grips also added a new element of control. Ken Kutaragi realized the importance of control when dealing with 3 Dimensional game worlds. “We probably spent as much time on the joypad’s development as the body of the machine. Sony’s boss showed special interest in achieving the final version so it has his seal of approval.” To Sony’s delight, the PlayStation sold more than 300,000 units in the first 30 days. The Saturn claimed to have sold 400,000, but research has shown that number to be misleading. The PSX sold through (to customers) 97% of its stock, while many Saturns were still sitting on the shelves. These misleading numbers were to be quoted by Sega on many occasions, and continued even after the US launch.