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Shuhei Yoshida: Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest exclusives changed the fate of PlayStation

BIG Conference's Honorary Award recalls Japanese publishers' scepticism before releasing the PSX in the mid-90s.

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PlayStation legend Shuhei Yoshida was in Bilbao at the weekend answering some questions before receiving the BIG Conference Honorary Award, and Gamereactor was at the event as well as official media partner to cover every development as it happened, including several interviews that will be appearing on our frontpage in the upcoming days.

Yoshida talked about his early days at Sony and also at the Computer Entertainment division some years later, and he even shared his thoughts about PS VR2 upon Gamereactor's inquiry, but first of all we want to recapture his words on a turning point for the company.

First negotiations to bring more games to the system weren't very hopeful. The machine was barely a concept and with the generation shift every actor was trying to "understand how real-time 3D graphics worked". Yoshida then recalled how the first great achievement was the legendary "dinosaur demo" for the PSX, with which "we visited companies big and small to convince them that what we were doing was real".

"Come back when you've sold a million PSX"

Traditionally as related to arcades as Sega, Namco, according to the Japanese executive, was one of the big ones that really got and supported the idea, whereas others asked "where are the sprites or the background? Or admitted that it looked good but it just wasn't the genre they were used to. A lot were pretty sceptical. After all, many try and fail in video games". In fact, Yoshida admits that "one publisher told us when we visited: 'come back when you have sold one million units of PlayStation'. And that became our goal internally. And actually the marketing department even created a TV commercial saying that 'we're going to sell one million units' as a tagline. And we did it (laughs). And we went back to the publisher".

But it wasn't an easy or instant success in their homeland, even though "if you know anything about Ken Kutaragi, Ken's vision is huge! (laughs)". With the PSX already in the market, when they were celebrating its second year in the market, "Sega Saturn had a really strong second Christmas (thanks to Virtua Fighter 2 and another blockbuster). We didn't have a strong lineup so we were kind of struggling in Japan. But luckily in the US and Europe we had additional strong titles so the launch there went really well. But things all changed when we - I was in the third party relations department and we helped to convince SquareSoft... at that time SquareSoft and Enix were separate companies, and Square had the Final Fantasy franchise, and Enix had the Dragon Quest franchise, and these two RPGs are the biggest IPs in Japan. And, you know, they were talking behind the scenes [things] that I cannot tell, but both of them committed to bring their new games to PlayStation. And that totally changed the fortune for us. And finally we had the games that we needed to make PlayStation successful".

The rest, same as Shuhei Yoshida himself, is PlayStation's living history.

Shuhei Yoshida: Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest exclusives changed the fate of PlayStation


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