The Playstation was released on the 3rd of December 1994 and is one of the most successful consoles ever selling 104.25 million units but did it have online? Read on to find out.
The PlayStation 1 did not have online as Sony’s first online console was the PlayStation 2 in 2001 with Playstation Online which required a separate network adapter to play. Online gaming was too primitive during the Playstation 1’s life cycle and Sony didn’t think online was worth it.
How online gaming came to be is quite interesting, and the earliest online connectively with game consoles actually happened way back in the 1980s and Sega found some success with the online service SeaNet in 2000.
I will discuss this in more detail with a brief history of online console gaming, with an insight into how the PlayStation network developed and more detail in what was the first true online home gaming console?
Brief History Of Online Console Gaming
During the 1980s was the earliest experiments relating to online connectively in gaming consoles, Dial-Up internet allowed the use of special ROM cartridges that connected to the internet with an adapter.
The GameLine for the Atari 2600 and PlayCable for the Intellivision are key examples of this. However, these servers did not have online multiplayer functionality but instead allowed users to download games from a central service requiring a fee for access.
Both, the services were a little head of the time and never remained too popular and were shut down by the 1983 video game crash. Check out the YouTube video below for more info about the crash, it was serious and video games as an industry very nearly collapsed completely.
Game developers tried to push online gaming networks in the 1990s but many issues stopped developers making any serious impact on the console gaming industry, and mostly these networks were only open to the Japanese market.
Shigeru Miyamoto who is a Japanese game designer and producer at Nintendo and created some of the most successful gaming franchises of all time with Mario and the Legend Of Zelda said in an interview in November 1996 about online multiplayer gaming. said online gaming would not achieve mainstream success for a while.
As the technology of the time could not provide the functionality from a simple plug and play console that the public wanted. Nintendo itself released online functionality with the Family Computer Network System for the Famicom, only released in Japan. This allowed gamers to access game cheats, weather reports and actual DLC with their games. It did not catch on.
The Sega Saturn had the service NET Link which debuted in 1996 two years after the PS1 was released and even allowed users to surf the web, check email and play multiplayer games online! It cost $199 (USD) with one month of access.
Even with the devices low price, less than 1% of all Saturn owners bought the Netlink in 1996 which shocked Sega and the whole gaming industry. Phil Harrison of Sony Computer Entertainment commented on the issue of online console gaming during a 1997 round table discussion
I think online gaming is a little bit of a myth. A lot of consumers, when asked if they would like online gaming, automatically say yes because they don’t actually know what it is – very few people have actually had the experience. It’s like asking someone if they would like a Ferrari. They say yes but then discover it costs a lot to run, it’s going to be in the shop all the time, and it’s going to guzzle gas. And currently this is the experience most consumers get when they play online.Phil Harison Vice President, 3rd Party Relations and Research and Development for Sony Computer Entertainment America from 1996 to 2000.
The Apple Pippin, launched in 1996 actually had built-in internet connection but it was a whopping $599 could stopped it competing with other internet gaming options, as the Sega Saturn and the Netlink device combined actually cost less than $400.
Nintendo took a crack at online gaming in 199 with the Nintendo 64DD only released in Japan, which allowed users to connect and share in-game art and even play games online if you purchased an additional accessory for 30,000 yen.
The 64DD failed to impact gamers because it was released just before Nintendo unveiled a new console the GameCube, and only 9 games were released for the Nintendo 64DD.
Modern online multiplayer gaming really found it’s footing with the Xbox Live being available on the Xbox in 2002 with games like Halo 2 being fully online playable and giving gamers the first time the true”modern” gaming experience.
The Playstation network started slower the PlayStation 2 did have basic online features but only via select games with the PlayStation 2 online network. The PS2 needed a network adapter which you could connect to the fat PS2 and was built into the hardware of the newer slim models.
The issue PlayStation online had is Sony provided no unified service for the system unlike Xbox Live, so support for the network features were unique to each game and third-party servers so it depended on the game developers themselves to implement online gaming. This was costly so not many PS2 games supported online functionality.
I remember games like Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence and BattleFront 2 supporting online play, but again this was Konami and EA so two big companies who could support the service. The formers servers are actually still active! You can see some online PlayStation 2 gameplay down below
What was the first console with online play?
The first true online multiplayer game was ChuChu Rocket! which was an action-puzzle game released in 1999 for the Dreamcast via the SeaNet internet service that used dial-up internet for online gaming.
The game servers were connected directly to SeaNets internal network, providing low connection latency between the consoles and servers and actually made dial-up console gaming multiplayer possible. Check out gameplay from the puzzle game that started it all down below.
When did PlayStation go online?
PlayStation 2 was released in 2000 with basic online features in specific games via the online network which required a network adapter to be attached to the console to play. Later the PlayStation slim models had the hardware integrated inside.
The issue with the early PlayStation online is Sony did not provide the necessary support the servers desperately needed. Instead, it relied on third-party server support specific to each game not providing a unified service to the system, unlike Microsoft who released the first unified service Xbox Live which released n 2002.
PlayStation now really started five years later in 2005 in the development stage of the next Sony console the fat PS3. Sony declared its intention to build on the poor online functionality of the PlayStation 2 and saw the potential an online network had with Xbox Live being an example.
Sony declared their interest in keeping users constantly connected with a “PlayStation World” network.[4” becoming more like Xbox Live and what Sony should have done earlier.
Sony released its unified online service calling it the PlayStation Network Platform” which was announced in the Tokyo Game Show later the same year.
The PlayStation network we all know now was finalised with Sony launching a premium subscription service in addition to the free PSN service is June 2010 known as PlayStation Plus. This allows access to exclusive content, free games, PlayStation Store discounts and early access to upcoming games.