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30 Retro Rumors
PlayStation Portable Due For Release in 1996 (Retro Rumors #16)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 11, 2015   |   Episode 16 (Show Archive)  

Welcome to 30 Ridiculous Retro Rumors, a brand new series that will run daily between November 26 and December 25, 2015. This is a series where we debunk some of the craziest rumors and predictions of all time. Today we're taking a look at the PlayStation Portable. But it's not the PSP you're familiar with. Could it be that Sony was going to release a handheld system in 1996? See for yourself in today's episode of 30 Ridiculous Retro Rumors.

This is a real rumor taken directly from the March 1996 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly ...

What a difference a year makes. In the months leading up to the PlayStation's launch, many in the media openly wondered if Sony had a chance in a market dominated by Sega and Nintendo. They mocked the first-party software and compared the 32-bitter to the 3DO. But the PlayStation was not to be dismissed, and it only took a few months for journalists to start whistling a different tune.

Here we have Quartermann leading the charge. He went from being dubious about the console's viability to predicting a Sony portable in just a matter of months. This handheld PlayStation was said to sport a flip-up screen, play compact discs and hit store shelves by the end of 1996. That's quite the ambitious plan for a company whose first console wasn't even a year old.

As if that wasn't ludicrous enough, Quartermann burrowed his way into the heads of the Sony executives to better understand this rush into the handheld space. Seemingly out of nowhere, he implies that Sony is feeling the heat from the 64-bit consoles on the horizon. What this has to do with a portable gaming device is anybody's guess, but he somehow links it all together to support this crazy notion that Sony was about to dominate the handheld market.

Obviously, this didn't happen. Sony turned their focus to growing their first home console, which would go on to sell more than 100 million units. They seemed content leaving Nintendo in control of the handheld market.

Nine years later, Sony finally decided to release a portable PlayStation. The PSP didn't play CDs or use a flip-up screen, but it did sell more than 80 million units and offered fans a number of great games. Unfortunately, Quartermann's excitement for the system waned over time, with Electronic Gaming Monthly largely dismissing the PSP at launch.


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