Playstation 2 commercial from 1999 featuring the fictional PS9
I remember it clearly back when I was in college 17 years ago (damn I’m getting old!). The PS2 was announced with an odd yet mesmerizing mock commercial for the fictional “PS9”. We were treated to a glimpse of what gaming was going to look like in the far off distant future, and at the end of the commercial, we see the PS2 along with the tagline “THE BEGINNING”.
Now 17 years later, we are on the cusp of this dream coming true much earlier than Sony predicted. Their vision ended up being eerily accurate, aside from some outlandish references to “electronic spores” tapping into adrenal glands. The weird thing was that this ad made me immediately less excited for the PS2 since they had just set the bar so incredibly high.
Further back, I remember as a child hanging out in my local toy store pouring over the details on the B sides of game boxes, checking out the marketing text and any pictures of the game they included. Often the boxes had no pictures of actual game graphics at all. Instead kids made due with drawings promising amazing adventures inside. Inevitably the games never lived up to the visual promise of the boxes. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my NES and those classic games. I spent hours and hours trying to beat Metroid, Contra, and Super Mario Bros 3. Duck Hunt blow my tiny little mind in 1987.
But I always wanted more. I wanted to be truly transported without having to fill in the gaps in my head. I saved up to get the Super Nintendo day one. It was a huge improvement, but still somehow far short of what I had hoped for. I continued to game though because those 16 bit games were still fun, if somewhat limited. I eventually went through a Sega CD, Sega Saturn, and Sega Dreamcast. Then for several years I stopped gaming. I was busy starting my adult life, and after that PS2 commercial, I sort of gave up. The commercial made it crystal clear that the experience I really wanted wasn’t coming until 2078, and it was unlikely that I’d live to see it.
Then in the late 2000’s a very generous friend bought me an Xbox 360 for Christmas so we could play Gears of War together online. I had been out of gaming for so long that it took me a while to adjust. What was this crazy controller?! Wait, it goes on the internet too? And you can chat with people while you play?! I could see a faint hint of the kind of experiences I had been hoping for as a child, and I got into gaming again.
The Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, and HTC Vive have been making noise for a few years now. Almost nobody outside the tech press, developers, and die hard early adopters really noticed. Virtual reality became sort of a joke in the 1990s, and I think many of us who grew up in the 8 and 16 bit era were rightly skeptical of this new wave of big VR promises. Then the Oculus Rift became available for pre order in January.
Since then its been a whirlwind of news and rumors as we near the release of the first wave of consumer ready virtual reality headsets. The VRLA convention in January was so packed that even after 4 hours in line, I still couldn’t get to the front to try out an HTC Vive. I impatiently bought an Oculus Rift developer kit used on Ebay shortly after that experience, and have been slack jawed ever since.
Sony’s announcement of the price and official release date for the Playstation VR came with a video of the mini games that will be packed in with the system at launch. Watching the video, I couldn’t help but note the parallels to that old PS9 commercial from 1999. Only this time, it is real, and it’s coming this October for $399.
Playstation VR mini games launch video from 2016