Things where looking up for Sony. PlayStation was selling well and was out pacing the competition. However, the future needed to be Sony’s focus. Sega wasted no time on the successor of the Saturn. By November 1998 in Japan, Sega launched what would be there final console, the Sega Dreamcast. The Dreamcast beat its competitors to the market by two years, and is still considered on of the more innovative consoles of all-time. Sega partnered with Microsoft, who at the time was just getting their feet wet in console gaming. The Dreamcast ran off Windows CE, an OS designed by Microsoft to help developers easily port PC games to the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast experienced a good amount of of success for the first two years on the market. Being the only ‘next-gen’ system, coupled with a $199 price point it seemed to be the perfect combination for Sega. However, Sony had other plans.
The announcement of the successor to Sony’s PlayStation, the PlayStation 2 (PS2), did more than just excite gamers, it created hype never seen before in its time. The PS2 had so much hype surrounding it that it affected its competition even before it hit store shelves. Sales slowed for the Dreamcast and frightened both Nintendo and Sega, and lef tthem wondering how where they going to compete when both systems combined still sold less then the original PlayStation. The hype did more than just stir emotions. During the announcement, Sony stated they had a goal, to have more PS2’s in homes then PC’s. This did not sit well with Microsoft, who relies heavily on the PC market with its Windows OS. Microsoft had a choice, to continue in the game market where they were already involved in game systems with their partnership with Sega, or to throw in the towel to PlayStation. History was about to be made. Sony’s calling out of the PC market put Microsoft on the path to Xbox, and would prove to be PlayStation’s biggest threat.
Microsoft released the Xbox on November 15th, 2001 which was a little over a year following Sony launching the PS2 and only three days before Nintendo’s newest system, the GameCube. The hype behind the Xbox was strong. With games like Halo: Combat Evolved and the wildly successful Halo 2 the Xbox would barley be able to edge out the GameCube in sales by the end of that generation. As you could imagine, this was not good news for Sega or Nintendo. Nintendo found itself on the outside of the fight between Sony and Microsoft.
Games like Resident Evil 4 and Super Smash Brothers: Melee kept GameCube just relevant enough while Sega continually drifted out. This was the start of the of the most divided group of gamers: PlayStation vs Xbox, and with the addition of a new console, Sega bowed out of the console space and became a software developer and publisher for the three remaining systems. The Dreamcast failed in sales but had gained a very loyal following of gamers by the end of it’s life, so much so that Microsoft approached Sega in the development of the Xbox to partner once again to make Dreamcast games compatible with the Xbox. The plan did eventually fall through though, and after four years on the market Sega consoles were extinct. Although this was the end of Sega this was the surge of Sony. PlayStation had gained momentum, even with the release of the Xbox, and sold over 155 million units. There seemed to be nothing that could stop Sony, but that would soon change.
This is part of a five part article series that will continue to outline the history of video games console wars. Stay tuned for part four, which will be posted next week, right here.