Sony has finally revealed the PlayStation 5 console, a radical departure from the more conservative designs of its predecessor.
Not only does it feature a two-toned and futuristic design, but it also comes in two variations – a PlayStation 5 console with an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive and a PlayStation 5 Digital Edition without a disc drive.
While we wait for the future of PlayStation to arrive this Holiday, we thought it would be the perfect time to look back at the history of PlayStation Hardware.
In the slideshow and article below, we take a deeper dive into the evolution of PlayStation hardware, and we hope it gives you something to do until you can play Horizon Forbidden West, Resident Evil Village, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Demon’s Souls and many more on your brand new PlayStation 5.
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=the-evolution-of-playstation-hardware&captions=true”]
The original PlayStation was the first home video game console developed by Sony Computer Entertainment and was first released to Japanese retailers in December 1994. It would then make its way to North America and Europe in September of 1995.
However, the path to release was anything but easy, and the whole video game industry almost went in an entirely different direction. The reason? None other than the Nintendo PlayStation.
Nintendo and Japan signed an agreement in 1988 to cooperatively develop a CD-ROM system for a future Nintendo System. This Super Nintendo PlayStation was set to be released in Japan in 1992, but Nintendo announced last minute that it was instead going to go with Philips, who would go on to create the Philips CD-i, leaving the once-promising partnership between these two giants in the dust.
While the Nintendo PlayStation never came to fruition, it did pave the way for the PlayStation and the 3D future of gaming that launched with such games as Ridge Racer, Rayman, Battle Arena Toshinden, NBA JAM Tournament Edition, and more.
When designing the PlayStation, Ken Kutaragi said his objective was to create a “high-performance, low-price videogame system which also had a design which was easy to write games for.”
It also had a proprietary video compression unit called MDEC that allowed for the high-quality full-motion video that was seen in such games as Final Fantasy VII.
The original PlayStation controller had no analog sticks and would not be upgraded until 1997 in Japan alongside Tobal 2 and Bushido Blade.
The console, which would stay in production until March 2006 and sell over 100 million units, was home to some truly monumental games, including Final Fantasy VII, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Metal Gear Solid.
The PocketStation was a Memory Card peripheral for the PS1 and was first released in Japan in 1999. It had a built-in LCD screen, five action buttons, and featured 15 memory card slots that could be used for PlayStation saves of PocketStation mini-games.
One of those mini-games was called Chocobo World and it worked with Final Fantasy VIII. You could find or buy a Chocobo and download it to the PocketStation to build up its experience.
Unfortunately, the PocketStation never made it out of Japan and was discontinued in 2002. However, in a surprising turn, Sony revived the PocketStation in 2013… sort of… with an app on the PlayStation Vita.
In 2000, Sony launched a smaller redesign of the original PlayStation, re-branded as the PS One (it launched in the summer leading up to the release of the PS2).
It was compatible with all PlayStation games, but it did remove the parallel and serial ports along with the reset button. Sony also released an LCD Screen attachment for the PS One, allowing for owners to use their PS One even on road trips.
Later that same year the PlayStation 2 launched, offering backward compatibility for the original PlayStation’s DualShock controller and all of its games. The true power of the PlayStation 2, however, could be found in Sony’s brand-new DVD format for games and the ability to play movies on the system itself.
This brought in a whole new group of consumers, many who may have otherwise not purchased a gaming console, who helped propel the PlayStation 2 to the best-selling video game console of all time, even to this day, with over 159 million consoles sold.
The PS2 also had internet connectivity, which allowed for online play with a PlayStation Network Adapter with such games as SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals in 2002 and Final Fantasy XI.
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=the-best-ps2-games-ever&captions=true”]
The PlayStation 2 would stay in production for almost 13 years and saw such incredible games as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Metal Gear Sold 3: Snake Eater, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy X, God of War, Kingdom Hearts, and many more.
The PSX – a separate item from the colloquial name of the original PlayStation – was a Sony digital video recorder that had a fully integrated PlayStation 2. It was introduced to Japan in 2003 and did not sell particularly well as the “public felt there was no need for it.” This caused Sony to never release the PSX outside of Japan.
The PSX came with an infrared remote control and could tune analog VHF and CATV. It also was the first Sony hardware to use the XrossMediaBar graphical user interface that would later be used on the PSP, PlayStation 3, and more.
The “PS2 Slim”
In 2004, Sony announced and released the first big revision to the PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 2 Slimline (best knows as the “PS2 Slim”). This new model was thinner, quieter, and included a built-in Ethernet port. It did not, however, have the original’s 3.5″ expansion bay nor an internal power supply. The expansion bay was a big problem for some, as games like Final Fantasy XI required the use of the HDD to play.
This new slim model launched within a few days of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and would see multiple hardware revisions that would improve the power supply, laser lens, redesigned ASIC, and more.
The PlayStation Portable (PSP) was released in Japan in 2004 as a handheld game console that primarily competed against the Nintendo DS.
The PSP boasted powerful graphics, the ability to connect to both the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, plus was capable of online play. It had most of the functionality from a traditional DualShock, save for the L2/R2 buttons and a second analog stick. It used Universal Media Disc (UMD) as its primary storage medium, and could play games and movies that used that format.
The PSP sold extremely well, topping 80 million units sold before being discontinued in 2014. In 2005, hackers were able to disassemble the code for the PSP and chose to distribute it online. This led to a very vibrant homebrew scene that allowed for custom-made PSP applications, emulators, and much more.
In September 2007, Sony introduced the PSP-2000, a slimmer and lighter alternative to the original model. The PSP-2000 featured a 33% lighter build and a 19% thinner design. Furthermore, it had a revised loading tray for UMDs and Memory Sticks and were no loaded via a swiveling tray.
The PSP’s speakers were moved from the bottom of the faceplate to the top and a the D-pad was slightly raised. The battery’s weight was also cut down, even though it didn’t impact gameplay time too greatly due to greater energy efficiency strides by Sony.
Also, the PSP-2000 included a way to use a video output cable to play PSP and media on any television at a maximum resolution of 720p.
Announced in 2008, the PSP-3000 released later in the year and touted a revised LCD display that featured “twice the color gamut of its predecessor, as well as five times the contrast ratio.”
There was also a microphone and the ability to use Skype on the PSP and a new anti-reflective finish that reduces glare.
In a small change, the PSP’s start, select, and home buttons were changed from ovals to half-circles, and the home button was replaced as the PS Button that was also found on the PS3’s SIXAXIS.
With the runaway success of the PlayStation 2, Sony entered its third console generation with an amount of confidence that would, frankly, backfire big time. It all began with the reveal of the PS3 during E3 2005 and, more specifically, the Boomerang controller.
A radical shift from the popular DualShock 2, it was on the show floor at E3 2005 but wasn’t featured during Sony’s main presentation. The following year, the more traditional Sixaxis controller would replace the Boomerang, but Sony’s E3 2006 presentation would raise plenty of questions nonetheless. It might not have been the most awkward E3 conference ever, with everything from the PS3’s shocking initial $599 price tag to “Riiiiiiidddddge Raaaaaaacccceeer” and Genji: Days of Blade’s alleged historically accurate giant crabs.
The PlayStation 3 was released in the US fall of 2006 and was the first console to use Blu-ray Discs as its primary storage medium. It also introduced the PlayStation Network and featured remote connectivity between the PSP and, eventually, the Vita.
The PlayStation 3’s Cell Processor was also notoriously difficult to develop for, and went on to cause serious issues with backward compatibility, both for older games on the PS3 and for PS3 games on the PS4.
With all that being said, the PlayStation 3 would find its footing and went on to sell over 88 million units. Additionally, it introduced the world to such beloved franchises and games as The Last of Us, Uncharted, Journey, inFamous, and more.
PlayStation 3 Slim
In 2009, Sony announced and released the PlayStation 3 Slim, a redesigned version of the console that featured a smaller form factor, quieter cooling system, and decreased power consumption.
The PlayStation 3 logo was also changed to replace the previous “Spider-Man” style font, with Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai saying at the time that the company wanted to “reset” itself.
In 2009, Sony released an updated model of the PlayStation Portable called the PSP Go. It was 43% lighter and 56% smaller than the original model and had a 3.8-inch 480×272 pixel LCD screen that could slide up and down to reveal the controls.
The USB port on the original PSP was replaced with a proprietary port, but it did add Bluetooth support. This allowed for owners to play PSP games with a Sixaxis or DualShock 3. Additionally, it did not have a UMD drive, and instead opted for 16 GB of internal flash memory that could be upgraded. In our review of the PSP Go, we said “Sony certainly has their heart in the right place — technologically advancing mainstream handheld gaming to a purely digital plateau — but it seems as if the idea wasn’t fully realized when it comes to mainstream viability.”
Sony BRAVIA KDL22PX300
In 2010 – yes, that’s the year two-thousand and ten –Sony released the Sony BRAVIA KDL22PX300, a 22-inch 720p television that had a fully integrated PlayStation 2 console and 4 HDMI ports. A single controller was included and it was also backward compatible with original PlayStation games.
PlayStation 3D Display
In 2011, Sony created the first PlayStation-branded HDTV that featured a 240hz refresh rate, low input lag, 3D, and full 1080p resolution. It was a 24-inch LED-backlit HDTV and sported a slim rounded build. Since it was 3D-enabled, Sony found a way to implement SimulView, which allowed two players to get a fullscreen view simultaneously on one display by using 3D glasses.
In our review of the PlayStation 3D Display, we said “With or without SimulView, at $499 the PlayStation 3D Display is still a value. It’s small, but it has great picture quality and features, as well as plenty of bonuses packed in. If you’re on a budget and need a compact HDTV, check it out.”
2011’s Xperia Play was the first smartphone to be PlayStation-certified and was an Android device that featured traditional PlayStation controls that could be hidden by the screen in the horizontally sliding phone. It launched with six Android games and one PlayStation classic, Crash Bandicoot.
In our review of the Xperia Play, we said “When you get right down to it, it’s not that the Xperia Play is a terrible phone, it’s just not a particularly great one. Sony Ericsson has undershot market trends by making it a modestly powered and featured device, and released it at a time when there simply isn’t enough support for the PlayStation Certified platform to make it a compelling purchase for gamers or casual consumers.”
The PlayStation Vita was the handheld successor to the PlayStation Portable, and was first released in Japan in 2011. It came to other regions in 2012 and featured (among plenty of other features) dual analog sticks, a 5-inch OLED multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, and a back TouchPad.
It was meant to bridge the gap between the mobile game phenomenon and the console experience, and offered such games as Persona 4 Golden, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, Killzone: Mercenary, and even Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified. Unfortunately, despite a few successes like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, many of these games didn’t live up to their promise.
Sales started strong, but they quickly slowed down, and the Vita only sold an estimated six million units in its first two years. This was a far cry from the success of the PSP’s lifetime sales of 80 million.
There was a spark of hope when Sony began discussing how Vita would work alongside PlayStation 4, and even began bundling both the PS4 and Vita together in the UK. There were promising signs, like Remote Play working with all PlayStation 4 games, but the Vita still couldn’t reach the heights Sony had hoped for.
PSP had the luxury of not competing so heavily with mobile devices, but the Vita was not so lucky. Former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America Jack Tretton spoke up about how even though the Vita was a “great machine, it’s just too late. The world has shifted to portable devices that aren’t dedicated gaming machines.”
PlayStation 3 Super Slim
In 2012, Sony introduced the PlayStation 3 Super Slim model with the option for either a 250 or 500GB hard drive, a big jump from the original 20 GB and 60 GB versions. There was also a 12 GB flash storage model that was available in PAL regions and Canada.
When compared to the PlayStation 3 Slim, the Super Slim has 20 percent less volume and 25 percent less weight.
The PlayStation 4 was already a slight departure from Sony’s previous consoles, as it wasn’t built on a new media format (as the PlayStation was with CD, PlayStation 2 with DVD, and the PlayStation 3 with Blu-Ray), but it did position Sony well for a digital future.
First revealed in 2013 during the PlayStation Meeting 2013 and at E3 2013, it was announced that Sony’s fourth mainline console would launch on November 15, 2013, for $399. Furthermore, Sony confirmed it was moving away from its Cell Processor architecture for a more standardized AMD APU.
The price was not only a big deal and change from PlayStation 3’s $599 debacle, but it was one of the many moves Sony made to counter Xbox One’s controversial game-ownership and internet-connection policies. Who could forget when Shuhei Yoshida and Adam Boyes showed the world how easy it was to share a PS4 game?
The PlayStation 4 would put new features front and center, including the ability to stream games to a PlayStation Vita or to a friend’s console with Share Play.
Another big change that would arrive with the PlayStation 4 was the DualShock 4. Not only did it replace the standard Start and Select buttons with Options and Share, it also featured a capacitive front touchpad, motion detection, and a light bar on top that could illuminate in many different colors and would respond to in-game events.
While the light bar would flash red and blue when cops were chasing you in GTA V, it was also designed with PlayStation VR in mind, as the light bar could be tracked by Sony’s VR headset.
With an impressive library that includes Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and God of War, the PlayStation 4 has been the runaway leader in the console race this generation with over 100 million units sold. This is also a console that has a ton of life left.
PlayStation Vita (PCH-2000)
The PlayStation Vita did receive a revised model in 2013 that was commonly referred to as the PS Vita Slim. It was 20% thinner and 15% lighter than the original model and featured a lower-cost LCD display over the previous OLED screen. This new model added about an hour of extra battery life and had a new micro-USB Type-B port, as well.
The PlayStation TV, released in Japan in 2013 and other regions in 2014, allowed for PS4 Remote Play and PlayStation Vita games to be played on a TV with either a DualShock 3 or DualShock 4 controller.
Not all Vita games were playable on the PlayStation TV and such features as the gyroscope, camera, and microphone were also not present. However, the touch controls could be reproduced on the DualShock 4 with the TouchPad and on the DualShock 3 by pressing in the analog sticks to bring up an on-screen pointer.
In our review of the PlayStation TV, we said “As a Remote Play extender for PlayStation 4 owners with fully wired homes—or truly outstanding Wi-Fi connections—the PlayStation TV has definite value, and it’s much easier than hauling your PS4 around the house and a lot cheaper than buying a second one. But as a standalone device, the PlayStation TV disappoints due to huge gaps in the game compatibility list and missing video apps, as well as poor PlayStation Now performance over Wi-Fi. Hopefully, Sony will improve the experience over time, but for now, it’s difficult to offer a hearty recommendation.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t get much better and Sony discontinued the device by 2016.
PlayStation 4 Slim
In 2016, Sony revealed the PS4’s first revision in the PlayStation 4 Slim. It had a 40% smaller form factor, a more rounded body, and a 500 GB model that would eventually be replaced by a 1 TB version at the same price.
In our review of the PlayStation 4 Slim, we said “Overall, the new PlayStation 4 gets the job done but doesn’t offer any significant improvements over its predecessor. It’s not much smaller or well ventilated, and its lack of an optical audio-out port more or less forces new PlayStation 4 buyers who want to play with their high-end audio equipment to either hunt down an original unit or wait for the PS4 Pro and spend the extra money if they want to make use of high-end headphones.”
While Sony may have tried its hand in 1996 with the Glasstron, it became a true force in the VR space with PlayStation VR. Sony’s headset has a 5.7-inch OLED panel that had a display resolution of up to 1080p. As of 2019, it sold over 5 million units.
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=top-25-psvr-games&captions=true”]
It needs a PlayStation 4 to function and utilized a combination of the PlayStation Camera, Move Controllers, and DualShock 4 controllers. The PSVR also came packaged with a Processor Unit that would connect the device PSVR to PS4. The first model did not support HDR video pass-through, but a revised model finally did.
Additionally, Sony has confirmed that PlayStation VR will work with PlayStation 5.
PlayStation 4 Pro
Also in 2016, Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4 Pro, a console that would support 4K and HDR video for PlayStation 4 games. It has a boosted CPU clock rate, a 1 TB hard drive, and twice the processing power of the PS4’s GPU. Its extra RAM would also allow better performance on the PSVR accessory.
In our review of the PlayStation 4 Pro, we said “The PS4 Pro is a premium-looking machine that offers a lot of extra power for developers to exploit. But right now, even on a big and brilliant 4K screen, the differences are often not stark enough to make standard PS4 owners jealous.”
Following the success of the NES Classic and SNES Classic, Sony released its own throwback console, the PlayStation Classic. It had the design of the original PlayStation and came packaged with two original PlayStation controllers (without analog sticks).
While the system itself was satisfactory, its included game library was a bit lacking. It came with only 20 games and no others could be added or downloaded post-launch. While it included such classics as Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto, and Metal Gear Solid, most players were hoping for a bit more.
In our review of the PlayStation Classic, we said “The PlayStation Classic feels more like a halfhearted acknowledgement than a top-shelf tribute to Sony’s era-defining console. The list of 20 games seems to miss more of the system’s greatest hits than it manages to include. Furthermore, the progress of time and television technology has not been kind to the look of many of these early 3D titles, and the inclusion of digital-only controllers makes many of them feel unwieldy by modern standards.”
The PlayStation 5 was finally revealed, and there will be two consoles at launch – one with an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive and a PlayStation 5 Digital Edition without a disc drive. Sony ensures that the “PS5 gameplay experience” will be the same on both.
Sony already gave us a look at the PlayStation 5’s controller, the DualSense, and promised it will “bring a sense of touch to PS5 gameplay.”
The DualSense will feature haptic feedback and adaptive triggers that will help players “feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow.” The “Share” button from the DualShock 4 is also being replaced with a new “Create” button, although details on what this change will mean have yet to be revealed.
Additionally, the DualSense and the PlayStation 5 feature a two-tone color scheme, a departure from previous hardware and controllers.
Sony also revealed the full specs for the PlayStation 5, which you can see below:
- CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU Architecture: Custom RDNA 2
- Memory/Interface: 16GB GDDR6/256-bit
- Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s
- Internal Storage: Custom 825GB SSD
- IO Throughput: 5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)
- Expandable Storage: NVMe SSD Slot
- External Storage: USB HDD Support
- Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive
We still don’t know a release date beyond Holiday 2020 and Sony has yet to reveal the price of its next-gen system.
However, now that the PlayStation 5 had its big reveal with such games as Horizon Forbidden West, Demon’s Souls Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Resident Evil Village, and more, more news should be on its way shortly.
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=every-playstation-exclusive-from-sonys-ps5-event&captions=true”]
Now that you’ve learned the history of PlayStation hardware, be sure to check out our look at the Evolution of the PlayStation Controller and everything else we know about the much-anticpated PlayStation 5.