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Ahead of the PS5 reveal, we look back at every PlayStation console launch

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has been riding high for quite some time now. It’s fair to say, with the enormous sales of the PlayStation 4, that the company is heading into the next generation in fine form, yet nearly everything surrounding the succeeding PS5 console is still cloaked in mystery.

With the Nintendo Switch selling like hotcakes and Microsoft readying to go to war once more via its Xbox One Series X, speculation has been rife with just what Sony has up its sleeve for the PlayStation 5.

To give us an idea of what Sony has planned for its next-gen hardware, and when the official unveiling might take place, we’re looking back at every core PlayStation console launch. Whatever is on the horizon, one thing can be sure: ‘Do not underestimate the Power of PlayStation’.

PlayStation

PlayStation

PlayStation (Image credit: Sony)

Release date: December 3, 1994

Sales: 102.49 million

Sony first made its debut in the videogame space after famously falling out with Nintendo on a joint venture called the Play Station, when the latter scrapped a last-minute deal to partner with Philips. 

However, Nintendo had unknowingly created one of its biggest rivals as Sony and (and future Sony Computer Entertainment CEO) Ken Kutaragi continued to work on their own PlayStation console, with Kutaragi proving pivotal in the console’s unique design. Opting for a CD-Rom drive instead of cartridges helped separate the model from the competition and paved the way for all the Sony systems going forward.

Sony’s earliest major conference came in the form of a keynote speech at the first ever Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 1995, as the company formulated its final plans ahead of its North American launch. Following the retail price of the Sega Saturn at $399, Sony Interactive Entertainment president Steve Race took to the stage to utter the single word “$299”, before immediately leaving. And just like that, the first mic drop moment to light the console war fire was initiated, changing history forever.  

PlayStation 2

PlayStation 2

PlayStation 2 (Image credit: Deni Williams / Shutterstock.com)

Release date: March 4, 2000

Sales: 155 million

After the 100 million plus sales of the PlayStation, Sony was in good shape leading up to its successor.

Announced on March 1, 1999, with several selected parties being shown the product behind closed doors at E3 1999, it wasn’t until Tokyo Game Show in September of that year that the PlayStation 2 was revealed in full by, then Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO, Ken Kutaragi.

Featuring backwards compatibility, a DVD drive, internet connectivity and an unexpected vertical stance, the PlayStation 2 wowed attendees. Furthermore, Sony premiered the DualShock 2 controller, 8 MB memory card and a whole host of titles, including Dark Cloud, A-Train, Tekken Tag Tournament, Gran Turismo 3 and Eternal Ring.

PlayStation 3

PlayStation 3

PlayStation 3 (Image credit: pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com)

Release date: November 11, 2006

Sales: 155 million

2005 was a strange time in gaming. While the Xbox 360 was announced via an MTV Special (with a Killers concert midway), Sony returned to E3 once more for a bizarre PlayStation 3 showcase that focused on “target renders”, a Batarang-shaped Sixaxis controller, a literal rubber duck demo (conducted by now Google Stadia VP Phil Harrison) and several ambitious promises that never came to fruition.

The strange E3 showcase was hosted by Sony chairman and co-CEO Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai on May 16, 2005. Despite the PlayStation 3 release date being still well over a year away, games such as Killzone 2, MotorStorm and Fight Night Round 4 were all given a presence.

It wasn’t until the following E3 that the infamous price of $599 was revealed alongside the notorious soundbites “Riddddddge Racer” and “Giant enemy crab”. The PlayStation 3 launch is still something that haunts Sony to this day.

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4  (Image credit: TechRadar)

Release date: November 15, 2013

Sales: 106 million (and counting)

Moving away from E3 for the first time, Sony’s PlayStation 4 announcement was live streamed globally from the first PlayStation Meeting event in New York on February 20, 2013, with SIE president and global CEO Andrew House running the show. 

However, it was PS4 architect Mark Cerny that lifted the lid on a number of technical specifications, features and the DualShock 4 controller.

Over two hours long, the crammed night saw Ubisoft, Square Enix, Activision, Capcom, and Blizzard all come together to show their support for the new model - not to mention Sony’s own lineup of studios. Plenty of games were given stage time too, including Knack, The Witness, Watch Dogs and Killzone Shadow Fall.

Sony then returned to E3 in June later that year to debut the actual look of the PlayStation 4 as well as its more welcoming pricing structure.

PlayStation 5

PlayStation 5

PlayStation 5 (Image credit: Sony)

Release date: Late 2020

Sales: TBC

Seven years after the PS4's release and Sony is poised to launch the PlayStation 5 in late 2020. Mark Cerny has once again been put in the driving seat to architect the new device, but a reveal event hasn't been confirmed yet - so we're still largely in the dark about key aspects of the next-gen console.

With Sony skipping E3 for the second year running, it seems likely that the majority of details will be disclosed sometime in the near future. But it does seem that, this time around, Sony is doing things on its own terms.

Several leaks have suggested that the PS5 reveal will take place in the next few weeks, most likely in February or March. But, with no official mention of an event from Sony, it's worth considering that the company may opt to skip a live event altogether and instead take advantage of its Nintendo Direct-style State of Play videos - streaming a reveal rather than putting on a showcase.

Either way, the PlayStation 5 reveal should shed some light on details such as design, specs and price. On the games front, follow ups to Sony exclusives Horizon: Zero Dawn, Spider-Man and God of War are all expected to be teased in some form, on top of further third-party support. Will we see Rocksteady’s new game? Naughty Dog’s next project? Knack 3? The possibilities are endless, and we can’t wait to find out.

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