It was the summer of 1999, we were on the threshold of a new millennium and PSX fans watched with greedy eyes as PS2 would take over from the success of PlayStation, first in Japan, and then in the rest of the world. But there was a place where this would be experienced in a special way. A place converted, at the stroke of a checkbook, into Mecca for PlayStation fans.
There, launch events were held with celebrities, queuing to buy new consoles, and visiting with friends to try the latest news and take home a demo with which to continue dreaming about the game you would buy one day. Seen this way, it is understandable that the account of the PlayStation Store have a special aura.
Sony Metreon: the perfect shopping center
On the other side of the pond, very far from a Mail Center with the days numbered and the classic bazaars in which to look for the latest technology at a reduced price, Sony inaugurated in San Francisco the Sony Metreon, an 85 million dollar shopping mall.
One of those shopping and entertainment complexes out of the future with IMAX screens in its cinemas, virtual bowling alleys, playgrounds based on international franchises, and stores designed to get lost and spend the afternoon in them even if you had no intention of buying anything.
An ode to the American passion for malls that, in the long run and with stories like this one, it ended up infecting us too – long before these also became a symbol of decadence when capitalism gets out of hand.
“During high school my friend and I took the bus from Santa Cruz to there. We’d skate around town, stop at the PS Store to rest, play a handful of games for a bit, and then catch the bus home. They were magical times ”.
Between arcade machines of the future and a Hollywood walk of fame, but dedicated to video game characters, in the Sony Metreon You could also find the two main Sony stores: the Sony Style dedicated to all the brand’s products that over time we also ended up enjoying in these parts, and the PlayStation Store that motivated this text.
The day the PlayStation Store was made of brick and glass
As chauvinistic as we like to be at times, visualize being the friend of that boy’s high school we read earlier, arriving at the store after a session of “Imagine being Tony Hawk“And sit at the huge bar counter full of consoles and games with the latest news to spend the afternoon without spending a dollar.
It didn’t take long for the idea to permeate among the American youth who, pushed by those photos from video game magazines in which Carmen Electra and Jason Biggs rubbed shoulders with giant pets from your favorite video games in their launch partyThey came to the store as if it were just another tourist spot in San Francisco.
The most curious thing about Sony Metreon and own PlayStation Store is that his greatest asset was also a nail in his coffin. While PlayStation fans and hordes of young people flocked to hallucinate that mall of the future, their spending on Sony’s premises was notably less than the cost of maintaining it all.
In 2009, 10 years after that and having lived through the launch party for PS2, PSP, PS3 and great sagas such as Tekken and Metal Gear Solid, or even having served as the setting for the video game Rise To Honor From Jet Li, Sony shelved the project, closed its stores and sold the complex.
The PlayStation Store It stopped having a physical side, brick and stained glass, to focus on digital, and the decision was followed by rivers of ink from teenagers remembering on Reddit how special that store was for them. I have no doubt that, had it been there at that time, it would have been for me as well.