From PS1 to PS5: How the PlayStation “defined a whole new genre”
In an exclusive interview, a PlayStation advertising veteran remembers Sony’s humble beginnings in the console market…
With the launch of the PS5 only weeks away, we recently sat down with Snakebyte’s Head of Marketing, Marc-Alexander Knipschild, to hear more about his company’s impressive range of next-gen peripherals.
What we didn’t expect, however, was to be speaking to a former PlayStation marketeer. During our interview, the German sales and advertising veteran reflected on working the launch of the original PlayStation all those years ago.
“I actually worked for Sony for quite some time,” reveals Knipschild, and you’ll want to hear what he’s got to say about the company’s iconic consoles…
“Back in the day”
Knipschild told us, “I was on an advertising agency in ‘94 for the launch of the original PlayStation [PS]. So, I’ve been closely connected to the PS brand for some 25 to 26 years now.
As Knipschild recalls, “Back in the day, Sony were really just known for making TVs. Sony were the whole company – not just PlayStation – it had all the entertainment, electronics, and we had the PlayStation, so, we were the little ones – the ones people didn’t take seriously. Then we launched PlayStation. And that perception turned quite quickly within a year, year and a half.”
While talking to us about Snakebyte’s upcoming wave of next-gen peripherals, Knipschild reveals that he has strong memories of working for PlayStation – and a lot of love for the brand:
“Those experiences helping to market PlayStation in its first five or six years… Those were some of the best in my life!”
While PlayStation may be a global gaming giant now, he fondly remembers the brand’s humble beginnings: “In 1994, We did all the promotional activities in retail, all the trade fairs and all the events for PlayStation. We only had a group of 10 people doing direct shopping to retail. In Germany, our biggest retailer in consumer electronics is Saturn Media. If you succeed there you succeed everywhere in Germany. And the flagship store in Cologne had a big, big department for computer games.”
“Sony defined a whole new genre”
Knipschild added: “Back then, Nintendo had about 20 booths with consoles in it, and we started with Sony and we were desperately trying to sell simply one both, saying let’s just put it there and see what people can do. Saturn Media said we have Nintendo we don’t need Sony… and about say a year later, out of those 20 spaces, we owned 10. The next year? We owned all 20. To see the power the brand of this console developed… Sony defined a whole new genre.”
For Knipschild, PlayStation succeeded because it was the first gaming console to truly target teens. “From a marketing perspective, Sony defined the target group of 14 to 49 that never existed before. Every target group consumer-wise beforehand started at 18-20. PlayStation showed that, OK, you have to start earlier – people are spending money from 14 to 20. I’ve had quite a few challenges in my life but that original PlayStation launch was probably the greatest experience I’ve had. To be part of that movement was really nice!”
Now, almost twenty years later, Knipschild is part of a key PlayStation launch once again – but in a very different capacity. While we’d love to share more of what the peripheral manufacturer’s been up to, Snakebyte’s new line of eye-catching Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S and PS5 accessories are still under embargo. Don’t worry though, launch day next gen-ers, Stealth Optional will have a roundup of them in all their shiny glory extremely soon!
“I wouldn’t have imagined anything like that 20 years ago!”
Touching on the utter chaos that occurred online when PS5 pre-orders opened recently, Knipschild says, “I wouldn’t have imagined anything like that 20 years ago!”
And with many gamers around the world still unable to secure their consoles, it’s not hard to see why PS5’s chaotic pre-order window has baffled Knipschild.
In Germany, PlayStation is far and away the leading console brand, with the PS4 outselling the Xbox One more than 4 to 1, and Knipschild is clearly proud that he was one of the people responsible for spearheading PlayStation’s Germanic invasion. But, of course, the company has changed a lot since then.
“It’s a completely different style of operations now”
Explaining how Sony has changed since the nineties, Knipschild says, “it’s a completely different style of operations now. Back in the days of the PS2/ PS3 the console was really open – there really were no companies who didn’t know how the thing worked.
“Ever since the PS4, however, Sony has tried to get more and more of a closed-circuit thing and really tried to keep third parties out. And I don’t think it has been any better with PS5 or the Xbox Series X, either, to be honest.”
Still, it is fairly understandable that a third party peripheral company like Snakebyte, where Knipschild works now, would want a bit more advance information from a console manufacturer. After all, a large chunk of its business comes from creating companion products for Sony’s shiny gaming boxes.
Interestingly, Knipschild’s comments come just as Sony has opted to fully breakdown the PS5 with a teardown video, revealing all the console’s innards in a clip that can only be described as a glorious piece of nerdy ASMR. And now that we’ve seen such an up-close and personal look at the console, we’re looking forward to seeing what third-party companies like Snakebyte can come up with to complement the console. Watch this space.
READ MORE: The latest PS5 news is right here