After Hours

Geek Trivia: Which of the Big 3 game console makers almost collaborated on a single game system?

The contemporary video game console market is dominated by three central players: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. However, the three-console market almost remained a two-player game because two members of the modern Big 3 originally collaborated on a single game system.

But for some boardroom back-stabbery, many of us would own Nintendo PlayStations today, with nary a Wii or a Sony nameplate in sight.

Back in 1989, the SEGA Genesis was staring down the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) for ultimate console bragging rights. SEGA was looking to pull ahead with the development of a peripheral CD-ROM drive that would offer far more advanced gameplay and multimedia capabilities than the cartridge-based Genesis or SNES could offer. Not to be outdone, Nintendo turned to the company that co-invented the CD — Sony — to develop its own CD-ROM extension.
Visionary Sony engineer Ken Kutaragi developed the "Play Station" to Nintendo's specifications, only to see the deal fall apart when the two companies couldn't agree on how to share technology licensing rights. Nintendo walked away from the partnership, and Kutaragi convinced Sony to develop his work into a standalone console product — the Sony PlayStation.Thus, in December of 1994, the Sony PlayStation arrived, almost two full years before the Nintendo 64 hit the shelves. (Nintendo never did build that CD-ROM extension for the SNES, and wouldn't debut a CD-based console until the Gamecube in 2001.) The game console market has been a three-player contest ever since. That's not just some counterfactual console conflation, it's a frag-tastic flash of Geek Trivia.

The quibble of the week

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.


Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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