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How the PlayStation became a phenomenon with a single number

Sega Never Knew What Hit Them

Clayton Ashley , senior video editor, has been producing and editing videos for Polygon since 2016. He is the lead producer of the tabletop gaming series Overboard.

In the past two decades, the Sony PlayStation has become one of the most powerful and popular brands in games. For younger fans, it can be hard to imagine what it was like when Sony was the new kid on the block.

Put yourself in the moment: this is the mid-90s. Nintendo’s establishing its iconic franchises and Sega’s Genesis is selling like hotcakes. The era is littered with the corpses of consoles that can’t get past these two titans. It’s crucial to remember, in this moment, Sony’s PlayStation isn’t guaranteed to be a hit.

We know now that the PlayStation would go on to become a phenomenon and that Sega would eventually exit the console hardware market. This trading of places was the result of many decisions and twists in the market. But one moment, a single word uttered at the very first Electronic Entertainment Expo, played a major part.

“$299.”

That number would change the landscape of the game industry, sending Sony and Sega on new trajectories. This video explains how.

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