FOSTER CITY -- The moment Peter Dille steps into a mall, his family has a pretty good idea where he's headed: a video game store.
And once there, he looks at each game and console with an eagle eye. But for this 48-year-old Danville resident, he's always "just looking." As senior vice president of marketing for PlayStation, Dille's concern is how others see both the games and consoles that he hopes they'll eventually purchase.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of Sony PlayStation's launch, which industry watchers call revolutionary in that it brought video games to a whole new audience.
"Essentially, what Sony PlayStation proved was that gaming was not just for kids anymore," said Scott Steinberg, head of video game consulting for Tech Savvy. "They found a way to bring gaming into everyday people's living rooms and not just dorm rooms."
Dille was brought to Sony for the initial launch in 1995, and since then the industry has taken off. For example, in 1995 there were about 80 employees in the Foster City-based PlayStation USA headquarters working on gaming. Now, there are about 1,800.
For Sony, the sudden success in both the PlayStation and PS2 propelled the company as a whole.
"The PlayStation was to Sony what the iPod was to Apple," said Rob Enderle, consumer technology analyst of the Enderle Group in San Jose. "It carried that much importance."
To date, Sony PlayStation products have generated $63 billion in
Dille attributes PlayStation's success to not just coming out with a strong line of titles, but each platform came with a 10-year life cycle. So even though the PS2 came out in 2000, games for the original console were still being developed for an additional five years. The PS2 titles are just now being phased out.
"We had this long runway that was attractive to publishers because it gave them a chance to develop their games, and it gave comfort to the consumer because they knew what they were buying wasn't going to be obsolete," Dille said.
Additionally, each platform ushered in a new technology. The original PlayStation made CD-ROM technology popular. The PS2 gave people the option to watch movies on DVD. The PS3 is doing the same with its Blu-ray technology.
"For many, the PS2 was the first DVD they had in their house," Dille said. "Each platform really pioneered a new technology."
While the PlayStation and the PS2 were instant hits and driving forces for the company, the PS3, which launched two years ago, didn't have the same success as its predecessors.
With a $600 price tag, and high-definition television still barely being introduced, the XBox360 and Nintendo Wii, which came out first, achieved more success.
Now Sony is trying to play catch-up. But Dille thinks when the dust settles, they can once again be the leaders in the console war.
In response to the Nintendo Wii, which surprised people with the popularity of its motion-sensitive controllers, Sony is coming out with the PlayStation Move on Sept. 17 that will be followed by about 40 titles by Christmas, Dille said.
The company is also trying to remind people that the system is not just a gaming system, but also comes with a range of uses. The marketing slogan is, "Only does everything."
The question for analysts, though, is whether it's enough.
Unlike in 1995 when there were just a handful of choices for gamers, the landscape is much different now. As a result, the future is uncertain for the gaming industry in general and Sony PlayStation specifically.
"The industry is being rocked by seismic changes across the board, and there's more competition than we've ever seen in the industry," Steinberg said.
Not only is there the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, but games on social platforms such as Facebook and mobile phones have become popular, too.
"It's become about practicality," Steinberg said. "Where it used to be that you could take 20 hours out of the week to play games, now more people are looking for more casual games that can be played in 15-minute spurts."
And even though the PS3 offers the Blu-ray technology, Enderle believes that by the time a large percentage of people embrace it, movies will be delivered almost entirely digitally.
"Personally I see really choppy waters ahead, because the difficulty for Sony is that the technology markets has started to move on." Enderle said. "Unfortunately, where gaming is taking off right now isn't in the consoles."
And the numbers seem to indicate that. In 2008, U.S. revenue for PlayStation products was $6.4 billion. And in 2009 it was $5.1 billion.
But Dille believes that to count out Sony PlayStation would be foolish.
"I know it sounds cliche for me to say this is a marathon not a sprint, but sometimes it's important to really look at where most of the chips lie 10 years out," Dille said. "I think we're very bullish on how it will play out for us."