As Playstation Celebrates 20 Years, Sony Looks to a Future Beyond Video Games

Joseph O'Donnell plays Sony's "Project Morpheus" virtual reality system during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, CA (PHOTO CREDIT: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)
Joseph O’Donnell plays Sony’s “Project Morpheus” virtual reality system during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, CA (PHOTO CREDIT: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)

It may be hard to believe, but the PlayStation made its debut in the U.S. 20 years ago this week. Since launching in the U.S. on September 9, 1995, the PlayStation has played a vital role in starting the video game revolution, an industry that generated more than $22 billion in revenue in 2014, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Since 1995, Sony has released four versions of its PlayStation home console, selling over 350 million systems including 20 million units of the PlayStation 4, launched in 2013.

As the company looks ahead to the next 20 years, gaming has become just a piece of the larger battle for the living room, with consumer electronics makers like Apple, Amazon and Google fighting to be the device of choice in the living room.

Consumers also continue to look for more from their entertainment systems than just gaming. Devices now need to be able to stream live television, access Netflix, Hulu and HBO, and be ready to handle the future such as virtual reality headsets.

Sony has already begun working on both fronts, launching its cord-cutting Vue online television service earlier this year in seven major markets and preparing to release its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset during the first half of next year.

“Over the years of the evolution of our console, especially coming on 20 years now, we introduced a lot of new services to our consumers,” says Eric Lempel, general manager of the PlayStation Network in the Americas and one of the creators of the Vue.

Similar to Dish Network’s SlingTV, Vue lets users watch live broadcast and cable channels, as well as record shows on a virtual DVR, over the internet through a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 or Apple iPad without needing to subscribe to a traditional cable package. Sony’s packages start at $49.99 a month and include the traditional local channels as well as cable favorites like ESPN, Comedy Central and TNT. A $59.99 a month “Core” package offers additional channels plus access to local sports networks such as the YES network in New York or CSN in San Francisco.

While its currently limited solely to those devices, Lempel says the company is looking to expanding to Google’s Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV devices in the future. “We’re kind of saying to the consumer, ‘here’s a different way to get the TV that you love, it gets better as you use it and helps you find things after.'”

TV isn’t the only area Sony is expanding its PlayStation brand. Available next year, Project Morpheus virtual reality headset is one of the company’s most hotly anticipated devices in recent memory.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Eli Blumenthal

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