PlayStation® Designer's Interview

Takashi Sogabe

Ideas Behind the Design of the PlayStation® System

New model of the PlayStation®3 system and the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable)go system have appeared in the market in the same year to mark the 15th anniversary of the original PlayStation® system.
How did these two PlayStation® designs emerge, and what were the ideas behind them?
We asked Mr. Takashi Sogabe of the Corporate Design Center, Sony Computer Entertainment, who worked on the product design of the new PlayStation®3 model.

Toward the Design of a New PlayStation® System

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The PlayStation® family celebrated its 15th anniversary on December 3rd, 2009, the same year the new model of the PlayStation®3 system and the new PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) go system arrived on the scene. The new designs for both products have attracted much interest, haven’t they?

There were several key factors involved in the current redesign. First of all, setting up the product design center within Sony Computer Entertainment and designing the products completely in-house were significant changes. The new model of the PlayStation®3 and PSP®go systems both emerged from projects developed there.

So the focus on development was carried out in a new environment, right?

While we added a new image to the design for both the new PlayStation®3 and PSP®go systems, none of the original PlayStation® “flavor” has been lost. We went through many, many experiments before we arrived at the current designs.

The Design Concept for the New Model PlayStation®3 System

Well, can you first tell us about the design concept behind the new PlayStation®3 (CECH-2000A) system?

The most significant concept was to be more user friendly than the original model. The previous PlayStation®3 model had a very rich presence as a system. It may have given some users an image of something that is not so easy to reach. There were some requests for a more user-friendly and casual design so that we could expand the range of users.

What kind of design did you first come up with?

The early design completely inherited the concepts from the previous models. It had a tower orientation with a matte finish. The unit was made slimmer and smaller while changing the proportions only minimally. The major change, if any, was that the complex linear shape was made more simple. We aimed for a simple appearance to give it a more casual look.

The design was very similar to the previous PlayStation®3 system.

That's right (laughs). Actually, if you take pictures of the two, you would not be able to see much difference from the previous model. It certainly attracts as an home interior accessory … We did a thorough investigation on "friendliness" next and found out that everyone still had the impression of the first generation PlayStation® system vividly in mind. The first generation PlayStation® system had the look of a handy and fun "game console". Therefore, we thought that we should incorporate some elements of the first generation PlayStation® system for a casual look.

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I see. The first generation PlayStation® system had a popular, fun, gadget-like feel.

That’s right. We immediately decided not to keep the tower orientation and instead introduced a desktop orientation.

The first generation PlayStation® system had a desktop style to it, with a lid that opened upward.

We had some statistical background for this change. Although the PlayStation®3 system is often used in a vertical orientation in Japan to work with the size of the room, almost everyone outside Japan was placing it in a horizontal orientation which made us think, “Why do people use it like that?” This was one of the reasons why we introduced the design of the new model of the PlayStation®3 system as a horizontal base, together with the two ideas of "incorporating the casualness of the first generation PlayStation® system" and "meeting worldwide needs". The first visual impression you get from the new PlayStation®3 system is different from what you got from the first generation PlayStation® system with its color shading.

It is a little surprising to talk about the first generation PlayStation® system when discussing the new model of the PlayStation®3 system.

Do you think so? To me, the design of this new model PlayStation®3 system is the compilation of all the previous PlayStation® system models. It includes all the elements from the first generation PlayStation® system to the PlayStation®2 and PlayStation®3 systems. The design is new, yet it has the look of PlayStation® platform. The new model PlayStation®3 system has been designed that way on purpose.

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