The Gaming Ghost – Vol. 3: The Legend of the Nintendo PlayStation


Josh Lawrence

The biggest breakup in gaming.

Josh Lawrence, Columnist

Nintendo and Sony go together like peanut butter and gravel. It’s hard to picture a world where these two gaming giants work together.  However, once upon a time in the magical land of 1991, Sony and Nintendo had plans to work together on a console—the myth, the legend: the Nintendo PlayStation.

Hello everyone, it’s Josh again. I hope you brought s’mores because tonight we’re gathering around the fire as I tell you a lost tale of corporate greed, betrayal, and video game companies.

The year was 1991, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was making fat stacks for the Mario company. Nintendo was hoping to boost the power of their system by making a CD-drive add-on for the console. As this was new territory for Nintendo, they sought the help of other companies to make a CD-drive for them.

Sony at this time had barely touched the medium of video games. But they were sweet on Nintendo, and gladly built a prototype for a built-in CD-drive version of the SNES. Only one is known to exist today, and it was called the Nintendo PlayStation, if you can believe that. This magical combination was auctioned in 2020 for a modest, teensy $380,000—comparable to a tank of gas nowadays. The auction was run by Heritage Auctions, and the winner preferred to remain anonymous.

From all the excitement of working with the almighty Nintendo, Sony announced that they were working together on this model of the SNES. But just a day later, heartbreak. Nintendo dropped Sony for Phillips, another company that wanted to make a CD-drive for them. Oh, the humiliation! Sony was a laughingstock! But, what went wrong?

While it may seem that all was peachy with Nintendo and Sony, Nintendo soon realized that Sony was intending to use the experience with Nintendo to make a console of their own and compete with them. Nintendo feared betrayal, so they fired first. Not to mention, Phillips, the company they dumped Sony for, was a rival of Sony’s, making the insult extra salty. But this move to keep Sony from becoming a competitor actually did the opposite.

In their rage towards Nintendo, Sony got to work on their own PlayStation, using skills they had picked up working on the prototype. In December 1994 for Japan and September 1995 for America, the very first PlayStation was released, and Sony was not messing around. It beat out the Nintendo 64, the successor to the SNES. This was humiliating for Nintendo, and a real lesson in irony for the company.

Today, the PS5 still beats out the Nintendo Switch, but things between the two companies have gotten friendlier. Still, Nintendo will never forget how their betrayal of Sony caused them to fall behind in the console wars. The moral of the story? Don’t poke the bear, because the bear just might become your biggest competitor.