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On December 3rd, 1994, Sony entered the video game industry — and it hasn’t been the same since.

Twenty-five years ago, the original PlayStation ushered in the era of 3D gaming on a home console. Over that period, the company has consistently changed things up with new advancements, whether that’s the DVD storage of the PS2 or the influential twin-stick design of the DualShock controller. It’s hard to argue today that the video game industry isn’t better with Sony in it.

The company’s influence now spans four generations of hardware — alongside a pair of portable spinoffs — and some of the biggest modern franchises in video games. That includes the likes of Uncharted, God of War, Gran Turismo, and a host of indie games and innovative titles like Shadow of the Colossus.

What’s perhaps most remarkable, though, is how consistent PlayStation has been over that lengthy period. While other console makers have come and gone, PlayStation has remained steady. Sony followed its original hardware with the PS2, which went on to sell more than 150 million units, making it the best-selling home console of all time. Even today, with increased competition from an array of gadgets, the PS4 has passed the plateau of 100 million units sold to sit snugly in second place behind its predecessor.

Twenty-five years is a long time, and here at The Verge we’re using this milestone as an opportunity to explore the outsized impact of the PlayStation family. That means getting a bit nostalgic, sure, and looking at the hardware, games, and creators that helped shape video games as a whole. But it also means exploring the impact PlayStation has had on our culture, touching various aspects of our lives, including everything from fashion to the environment.

It was just a little gray box that could play Metal Gear Solid — but in this issue we’ll show you why the PlayStation went on to become so much more.

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge, Photography by Richard Parry