The (Mostly) Complete History of the PS4

PlayStation 4’s dominance this past generation could not have been more of a 180 from Sony’s struggle during the PS3 era. From minute one, Sony not only announced what the PS4’s impressive seven-year run would be about – games, first and foremost – but also found ways to leapfrog ahead of the Xbox One, which stumbled out of the gate and lost the momentum it Microsoft enjoyed during the reign of the Xbox 360.

But that doesn’t mean the PS4’s lifecycle was a boring one of constant success. Yes, we saw PlayStation cement its first-party stable as consistently excellent this generation, but it had to grapple with the consequences of its own over-confidence, and ultimately, an identity crisis in the face of that success. Here’s the (mostly) complete history of the PlayStation 4.

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PS4: It Was Over Before the Console Was Even Out

Sony officially unveiled the DualShock 4, the PS4 name, and a host of upcoming games back in February 2013, but it was its approach to E3 that year that set the tone for the entire generation. It’s a story that’s been repeated endlessly ever since, but Microsoft bungled the Xbox One reveal with a focus on media apps and entertainment features rather than games and a confusing and prohibitive game-sharing policy.

Enter Sony: in 30 seconds, it demonstrated just how easy it was to share PS4 games, and then undercut Microsoft’s console price by $100. IGN called it a knockout blow at the time, and for good reason.

There’s a scrappiness to that first E3 – yes, Sony was still a major player, but the grounded, human charm with which it knocked out Microsoft was foundational in connecting the brand to new, lapsed, and dedicated PlayStation players.

The PS4 would go on to sell a million units in under 24 hours in North America alone on November 15, 2013, and continually impressive console sales followed that booming start. These numbers were bolstered by the mid-generation refresh of the PS4 Pro, and the PS4 as of now has sold over 113 million units. That makes it the second best-selling home console ever, behind only the PS2. But for all that success, it’s surprising to see just how bullish Sony was about experimentation in the early days of this generation.

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