Sony PlayStation: Sony’s journey from deception to world domination.
Sony engineer Ken Kutaragi had become interested in the potential of video games after watching his daughter play on the Nintendo Famicom in the mid 1980s, he signed a contract with Nintendo to provide the audio processor for their next generation console, developing the chip in secret as Sony’s top brass seemed to have little interest in the childish video game market and did not approve of the project, with the notable exception of Sony executive Norio Ohga who prevented the development from being scrapped and allowed Kutaragi to continue, it was the success of this project that encouraged Nintendo to enter into a partnership with Sony to develop a CD add-on for their 16-bit console, allowing Sony to make their own version that would play both SNES cartridges and games for the new Super CD format.
Under the terms of the new deal Sony would develop and retain control over the Super CD format, meaning Sony would be the sole benefactor of all licensing related to music and movies, being that Sony had purchased CBS Record Group in 1988 and Columbia Pictures in 1989, they were already in a stronger position than most entertainment companies, they could flood the new machine with content and Nintendo wouldn’t receive a penny in the process and any third party company producing software for the cheaper and easier to produce Super CD format would be licensing from Sony instead of Nintendo.
Yamauchi soured on the deal pretty quickly, to the point where you have to wonder what they were thinking in the first place, the Kutaragi designed S-SMP sound chip in the SNES required Nintendo to pay Sony for expensive development tools to use it, this new agreement basically gave Sony a way to circumvent Nintendo, as they had no control over the Super CD format, Yamauchi decided to do the dirty and sought instead to form a new partnership with Philips, sending his son in law and Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa along with executive Howard Lincoln to the Netherlands to begin negotiations with terms that would be more beneficial to Nintendo.
At the CES in June 1991 Sony announced its SNES-compatible cartridge/CD console, the PlayStation. The next day, Nintendo announced its partnership with Philips, to say that Sony were angered by the deal would be an understatement, they had been embarrassed in front of the entire worlds media and they weren’t going to go quietly into the night, the move wasn’t without blowback for Nintendo, they had committed the ultimate sin, not only had they turned on a native company, they had done so in favour of a deal with a foreign company, their reputation would remain damaged for nearly a decade.
Renegotiations started quickly, Nintendo trying to strong arm Sony into more favourable terms, with an estimated 300 prototype PlayStations in existence and software already in development, Nintendo were banking on Sony not wanting to write off the R&D costs, a new deal was reached in 1992 allowing Sony to go ahead with producing its SNES compatible hardware, but rescinding control and more importantly the profits, over the games licensed for it back to Nintendo.
Sony quietly shelved the whole idea of the SNES hardware, it was annoyed and a fire had been lit under those very same executives that originally had shown little interest in the video game market, now they wanted to see Nintendo humbled, in a business report from Febuary 1992 Kuturagi wrote “The industry is at a watershed. Nintendo’s superiority is crumbling. It has become obvious that Nintendo no longer deserves to be Sony’s partner. Sony should go its own way.”
The original plan was to approach Nintendo’s biggest rival in the global marketplace, Sega. According to Hediki Sato who was head of R&D at Sega this culminated in a meeting between Ohga, Kutaragi, and Kutaragi’s boss, Tamotsu Iba along with himself and Sega head Hayao Nakayama at Sony’s headquarters, ultimately it went nowhere Sega may have been riding high off the international success of the Mega Drive, but when it came to revenue Sony dwarfed them, echoing some of the same uneasiness as Nintendo, the concern was that if they chose to Sony could just swallow Sega whole, no doubt helped by Ohga telling a story about how Sony had nearly acquired Sega in 1983 when Gulf + Western were looking to offload it, a deal that didn’t go through because the American negotiator had died of a heart attack on the plane journey home from Japan, this came as news to Nakayama and did little to assuage his fears.
The Nintendo Philips deal didn’t amount to much either, a couple of lackluster titles using some of Nintendo’s characters for the struggling Philips CD-i console was pretty much all she wrote, after the failure of Philips’ expensive and underwhelming console and the muted response to Sega’s Mega-CD, Nintendo cancelled plans for a CD add-on altogether, no doubt happy that they had appeared to dodge a bullet.
Sony abandoned all plans of forcing Nintendo to honor its original contract. At a meeting in mid 1992, Kutaragi argued that Sony must either develop a console on its own, or scrap the project entirely. He then revealed that his team had already developed a prototype for a much more powerful console than what was possible when thay had been constrained by having to work around Nintendo’s hardware , Ohga was impressed and gave his approval for the project to proceed, moving Kutaragi and his nine man team into the offices of Sony Music Entertainment Japan where Sony Computer Entertainment was establish as a joint venture between Sony and SMEJ.
According to Sony Records founder Shigeo Maruyama there was initially some discussion around whether the PlayStation should be focused around 2D or 3D graphics, a conversation that was immediately settled by Sega’s release of Virtua Fighter in Japanese arcades, proving that not only was high quality 3D capable, but due to Sega’s success it could also be profitable, later SCE president Teruhisa Tokunaka would express his gratitude, claiming Sega’s game arrive at just the right time to prove that making games with 3D imagery was possible.
Based around a 32-bit MIPS R3000 compatible RISC CPU, the same CPU uitlised by Silicon Graphics in their IRIS Workstations, with a geometry transformation co-processor, motion decoder and system control co-processor built into the same chip, backed by a Sony manufactured 32-bit GPU that had been designed by Toshiba, a 16-bit Sony SPU capable of 24 channel ADPCM Audio with a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz and a double speed CD-ROM drive, on the hardware side at least Sony were coming out swinging.
Sony were well aware of their own shortcomings, unlike Nintendo and Sega they had no history in the video game business and had no arcade presence to port from, they spent a good chunk of 1993 courting third party support, where they received agreements from Konami, Williams and 250 other development teams, they also found a huge partner in Namco, who thanks to their own history with Nintendo were keen to help Sony in any way possible, including partnering with them on the Namco System 11 arcade board, based upon the prototype PlayStation hardware that would make porting their titles to Sony’s new console as painless as possible.
Sony then set its sights on Europe, paying out $48 million to secure the purchase of famed Liverpool based studio Psygnosis, Sony now had its first in house video game development team. The move provided another benefit, the Psygnosis team hated the overpriced workstations that Sony provided as development kits and instead approached SN Systems in Bristol to create an alternative PC based dev kit, when SN Systems presented their condensed development system to the Sony bigwigs at the January 1994 CES in Las Vegas, Sony were impressed, the dev kit could run on a standard PC with the addition of two expansion boards, Sony immediately abandoned their workstations and placed an initial order for 600 of the new systems.
Sony strived to make producing games as easy as possible for third party developers, they knew that for a new console to succeed it needed games, lots of games and it needed them to be turned around quickly, not wanting to repeat the mistakes of Atari’s ill fated Jaguar console, or indeed those of the 3DO or the Philips CDi, Sony set about providing their own programming libraries and set up techincal support centres for third party developers based out of their California, Tokyo and London offices.
Sony publicly announced it was entering the video game console market on 27th October 1993, it didn’t do this on stage at one of the big flashy tech shows, it didn’t even call a press conference, instead it just slipped out a simply worded press release distributed on a Wednesday morning, stating that Sony was “working toward marketing a new home use game system domestically by the end of 1994 and overseas within 1995, priced competitively.” A week later this was followed by another press release
“The next generation games machine is expected to offer high speed, simultaneous movement of characters and high quality backgrounds, together with powerful 3D graphics”
It was a full month after this announcement before the public even learnt the name of this new machine, which at that point in a bid to distance itself somewhat from the aborted Nintendo collaboration was revealed to be PlayStation X, known more colloquially as PSX.
Despite the positive noises the gaming press were not predicting success for Sony, they questioned how they could compete against industry stalwarts like Sega and Nintendo, their only previous experience in the video game hardware stakes had been as part of the MSX project, that although reasonably successful in Asia had been nothing but a damp squib in the rest of the world and mainly remembered in Europe for its less than stellar ZX Spectrum ports.
The PlayStation launched in Japan on December 3rd 1994 for the asking price of ¥39,800, it was a success with large queues on show at all major outlets, first day sales hit 100,000 units, although the PlayStation’s launch was successful it was definitely in second place, by the end of the month Sony had sold 300,000 PlayStations, compared to Sega selling 500,000 of its new Saturn console which had been released 11 days before on the 22nd November for the higher price of ¥44,800.
Sega decided to capitalise on their Japanese success, they contacted Sega of America with one instruction, Sega had to beat Sony to punch, The Saturn was due to be released in America on Saturday September 2nd (dubbed Saturnday) backed by a full marketing campaign, with the PlayStation launching on September 9th, Sony were gearing up for a North American blitz and Sega were somewhat concerned that a week head start might not be enough to counter Sony’s deep pockets, even with Sega’s proposed $50 million marketing budget earmarked for the release.
“We all knew PlayStation was coming so we wanted to pre-empt them. Japan basically ordered us to be on shelf in the Fall, I thought up the surprise launch as a way of generating excitement and PR.” — Tom Kalinske
So it was that Kalinske took to the stage at the inaugural E3 event on May 11th 1995 and announced a surprise early launch to select retailers, The Saturn was available immediately for a price of $399, it was a move that backfired catastrophically, even going beyond the lack of marketing, with only thirty thousand consoles available the retailers who were not in the “select” group were left feeling angry and betrayed, some chains like KB Toys were so pissed they refused to ever stock the console at any of their stores. At the Sony conference which took place shortly after Sega’s show, Sony’s Steve Race bounded onto the stage, announced “two ninety nine” and left.
Sega found itself with not enough consoles to meet demand and with developers working toward the previously announced September 2nd date the games were noticeably thin on the ground, only six titles were available at launch, and with the exception of Bug! which released in August, the Saturn library remained pretty much stagnant over the entire course of the summer.
The PlayStation launched as scheduled on September 9th backed by eleven launch titles and with that price tag of $299, Sega’s head start had been for nothing. Sony sold more PlayStation consoles in two days than the Saturn had sold in five months, Sony were winning the battle for America simply by doing what they always planned to do, whilst their competition had countered by shooting themselves in the bollocks.
The European launch took place on the 29th September and despite having less titles available than the US launch with nine compared to eleven, it followed the American success, within two months the PlayStation had outsold the Saturn three to one in the UK at the price of £299, demand was so high Sony had to ramp up production and even chartered planes to bring stock into the region, Australia followed on the 15th November priced at $699.95 and it was a similar story, Sony was taking the the world by storm quickly becoming the market leader everywhere but in their home country.
A lot of the reason for the PlayStation’s dominance in Europe and America was an incredibly successful marketing campaign that targeted older players, the console wasn’t a kids toy, it was the consumer electronics entertainment device you turned to when you got back from clubbing or a night on the lash, in the UK Sony partnered with Ministry of Sound with PlayStation booths positioned in clubs, that summers festivals had dedicated PlayStation areas where select games could be tried out, the futuristic racing title from Psygnosis ‘Wipeout’ tapped into this culture with a marketing campaign designed by The Designers Republic and a soundtrack featuring Orbital, The Chemical Brothers and Leftfield, it was a game that seemed to arrive as a mission statement for the new generation.
Another notable early release for the PlayStation was Tekken, Namco’s arcade fighting game that served as their answer to Sega’s Virtua Fighter, in fact the game itself was developed by many of the staff who had worked on Sega’s seminal 3D fighting game before defecting to Namco, The director Seiichi Ishii had been the designer of Virtua Fighter, originally conceived to be released on Namco’s System 22 arcade board, development was shifted to their PlayStation based System 11 after news broke that Sega was planning the develop Virtua Fighter 2 for their new Sega Model 2 board.
Along with Psygnosis, Namco were a key player in the PlayStations early success, not only did they provide Sony with arcade legitimacy, they were instrumental in countering Sega, Tekken was the perfect answer the Sega’s Virtua Fighter, Ridge Racer to the untrained eye looked even more polished than Sega’s home port of Daytona USA and Time Crisis could easily sit alongside Virtua Cop in much the same way as Namco’s G-Con light gun was on a par with Sega’s virtua gun.
The first year of release also saw the release of Battle Arena Toshinden, Arc the Lad, Mortal Kombat 3, Jumping Flash, Rayman, Destruction Derby, 3D Lemmings, Twisted Metal, Ridge Racer, Soul Edge, The Raiden Project, Suikoden, King’s Field 2, Return Fire and Rapid Reload.
As 1995 came to an end the sales figures were promising, Sony had sold 3.1 million PlayStation consoles, leaping ahead of Sega who had sold 2.06 million Saturns, Nintendo however were still holding strong having sold 3.51 million SNES consoles, although to be fair, they did have a full twelve month window and a host of AAA games with which to achieve it.
Although Sony was on fire in America and Europe, things were not quite so straightforward in Japan, for the first time in its history Sega was gaining a foothold in the one market that had always eluded them, by the middle of 1995 Sega’s market share had grown from 12% the previous year to 32% (Nintendo’s fell from 75% to 33%), halfway through the year Sega passed the milestone of selling 1,000,000 consoles and celebrated with a price cut and a new bundle packaging the console with Virtua Fighter Remix.
Nintendo wasn’t out of the fight just yet, as we’ve seen by the end of 1995 it was the aging SNES hardware that was crowned the biggest selling console of the year, helped on no small part by the Japanese releases of Dragon Quest VI, Chrono Trigger and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, eight of the top ten best selling video games released in 1995 were for the SNES, the Saturn took the number seven spot with Virtua Fighter 2 and PlayStation squeezed in at number 10 with Tekken.
Nintendo were also lining up their next generation system the N64, released in Japan on June 23rd 1996, Nintendo had eschewed the 32-bit generation completely, their shiny hardware was based around a 64-bit (hence the name) NEC VR4300 CPU, although in a move that would eventually come back to bite them, Nintendo had made the decision to stick with cartridge based media, although it offered them better revenue from licensing third party games, it also limited the available size to 64mb, compared with 650mb available for CD.
The International gaming press gushed over Nintendo’s new machine, Next Gen called it “The worlds most powerful game machine”, the Los Angeles Times went with “Quite simply, the fastest, most graceful game machine on the market” the anticipation was high and following the American launch on September 29th sales quickly outstripped those of both Sony and Sega, in Nintendo’s previous stronghold of Japan however despite an initial blip, sales would lag behind both of their major competitors.
1996 would turn out to be an important year, the UK was experiencing something of a cultural renaissance under the banner of Cool Britannia and it was under this banner that a new video game icon would make their first appearance in the form of Lara Croft, star of a game called Tomb Raider from Sheffield based Core Design, the game was originally released on the Sega Saturn as a timed exclusive, which normally would have benefitted Sega, but the game shipped with a few bugs which due to that exclusivity window were able to be ironed out before the release of the PC and PlayStation versions.
Tomb Raider proved to be a massive success on the PlayStation, so much so that Sony signed an exclusivity deal keeping all subsequent console games exclusive to the PlayStation hardware until the year 2000, a move that made sure that Tomb Raider would be synonymous with Sony’s console and that Lara herself (who would end up gracing the cover of non-gaming magazines) would become a mascot at a time when Sonic and Mario were beginning to look a little childish.
1996 continued to throw up a clutch of classic titles, Namco released Tekken 2, Soul Edge and Rage Racer, Capcom debuted Resident Evil, Psygnosis released Wipeout 2097, Destruction Derby 2, Formula 1 and Assault Rigs, Naughty Dog gave us the first in the Crash Bandicoot series and the library was further fleshed out with notable releases including Die Hard Trilogy, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Twisted Metal 2, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Final Doom, Cool Boarders, Alien Trilogy, Vandal Hearts, International Track & Field, Crypt Killer, Soviet Strike, Tobal No. 1 and Re-Loaded.
As 1996 wound to a close the PlayStation was the biggest selling console of the year with 6.6 million units sold world wide, helped in no small part by a price cut reducing the RRP from £299 to £199, in every territory with the noticeable exception of Japan they were way ahead of the competition, even being forced to upgrade their CD production facilities to meet the demand for producing games.
1997 was to be the year of change in Japan, as Sony landed one of the biggest gaming franchises for the PlayStation with Final Fantasy VII, the game had originally began back in 1994 as a title for Nintendo’s SNES console, but after taking a break to complete Chrono Trigger, the games developer Square noticed that technology had moved on and 3D had quickly become something of the norm, a prototype was tested on the N64 but was found to be lacking due to the limitations of the hardware, this coupled with the high price of cartridges led Square to look for a new platform and they found it with the PlayStation.
It’s hard to overstate the impact of Final Fantasy VII in Japan, it was launched on January 31st 1997 and within three days it had sold over two million copies, the knock on effect was that sales of the PlayStation skyrocketed and Sony was finally able to overtake Sega. Although everyone was pretty sure that the game was going to be a huge success in its home country, they were somewhat less certain about how it would fare internationally, Sony lobbied for the international publishing rights, even going as far as offering a deal with royalties as close to a level as Square would have made from self-publishing, Sony led with a major marketing campaign and it paid off, Final Fantasy VII would become one of the best selling games on the console and despite also being released on PC it became synonymous with Sony’s hardware.
It wasn’t just Square that had a good showing in 1997, Konami released Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, widely regarded as the pinnacle of the Castlevania franchise, Namco released Tekken 3 alongside Ace Combat 2 and Time Crisis 2, Capcom released Breath of Fire III, Psygnosis released Colony Wars, G-Police and Overboard, Naughty Dog released Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, the now exclusive Tomb Raider franchise returned with Tomb Raider II, DMA design who had made a name for themselves back on the 16-bit Amiga releasing games published through Psygnosis came out with a title called Grand Theft Auto and Sony themselves published their own racing title that had been sat in development at their internal studio Polys Entertainment for the previous five years called Gran Turismo.
Other noticeable releases for the year included , Cool Boarders 2, Bloody Roar, Alundra, Armored Core, Bushido Blade, Front Mission 2, Einhander, Fighting Force, Nuclear Strike, G-Darius, Oddworld: Abe’s Odysee, Micro Machines V3, Dynasty Warriors, and SaGa Frontier.
Also released in April of 1997 was the PlayStation Dual Analog controller, first displayed at the PlayStation Expo in November of 1996, the controller not only featured twin analog sticks, but also featured a vibration feature, the controller was released in Japan on April 25th beating Nintendo’s Rumble Pack to market by two days, for whatever reason Sony decided to remove the vibration feature from the controller for its release in North America and Europe, a feature that would return at the end of the year with the release of the Dual Shock controller.
On the hardware front 1997 also saw the wide release of the Net Yaroze console, originally designed for hobbyists it was a home software development kit for the PlayStation in much the same vein as the PC Engine Develo, interestingly the console features no regional lock out, although three variations exist for Japan, North America and Europe, the Net Yaroze lacked many functions of the professional SDKs, the console couldn’t read user burned CDs, a necesary restriction for a home console implemented to limit piracy and all code, graphics, audio samples and run-time libraries were limited to fit in the 2 MB of primary RAM, 1 MB of VRAM, and 0.5 MB of sound RAM respectively.
As the year rolled to a close Sega had sold 1.8 million Saturn consoles, Nintendo had a good showing selling 9.42 million N64s, but the top dog was without a doubt Sony, having sold 17.2 million PlayStations benefitting again from another price cut bringing it down from £199 to £149, by this point the PlayStation was responsible for nearly a quarter of Sony’s profits.
1998 was shaping up to be another bumper year, helped in no small part by Konami and the release of Metal Gear Solid in Japan and America (the EU would have to wait until 1999), Directed, Produced and Written by Hideo Kojima, on paper Metal Gear Solid was anything but a guaranteed success, it was after all the direct sequel to an MSX2 title for which no English translation was ever made, but there was a rabid demand for the game leading up to its release thanks to an unprecedented amount of coverage in the gaming press fed by demonstrations at international gaming shows over the previous couple of years, successfully whipping consumers into a frenzy, the game launched to universal acclaim, with many publications heralding it as the greatest game of all time, no wonder it ended up topping the charts in every region.
Other notable releases on the PlayStation for 1998 included Square’s Xenogears and Parasite Eve, Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Core Design’s Tomb Raider III, all sitting alongside Ridge Racer Type 4, Suikoden II, Bloody Roar 2, Clock Tower 2, Guilty Gear, Colin Mcrae Rally, MediEvil, Parasite Eve, R-Type Delta, Xenogears and Future Cop L.A.P.D.
As the year closed out Sega had sold 205,000 of its Saturn console and a further 900,000 units of its new 128-bit successor the Dreamcast, Nintendo had sold 7.86 million units of the N64, but standing at the top of the mountain for the third year in a row was once again Sony having cut the price of the console again to £129 it sold 22.5 million units of the PlayStation.
By 1999 the end was on the horizon for the PlayStation, not because of Sega’s stellar but ultimately doomed Dreamcast console, nor from Nintendo who had began working on a successor to their N64 hardware which was announced in May of 1999 as “Dolphin” and would eventually be released as the GameCube, no the end was in sight because Sony themselves on March 2nd 1999 announced the PlayStation 2.
Of all the games released in 1999 arguably the strongest on the PlayStation was from Sony themselves with the eagerly awaited sequel Gran Turismo 2 (although the UK would again have to wait until January 2000), the game took everything that was good about the first title and attempted to build on it, the game was not without it’s hiccups, a number of bugs slipped through the net leading to Sony offering replacements for anybody who was affected, but even those in the press who complained that game was rushed and in places unpolished still went on to declare it the best racing game of all time, in the UK the game even managed to surpass The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, snatching the record for fastest selling video game of all time.
Other notable releases included Final Fantasy VIII, Chrono Cross, Front Mission 3, Parasite Eve II, Legend of Mana, Grand Theft Auto 2, Grand Theft Auto London, Syphon Filter, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Vandal Hearts II, Medal of Honor, Crash Team Racing, Dino Crisis, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Ape Escape, Syphon Filter, Wipeout 3, Discworld Noir, Grandia, Alundra 2, Driver, Silent Hill, Vib-Ribbon, Um Jammer Lammy, and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation.
At the end of the year, Sega had sold 3.15 million Dreamcast consoles, Nintendo had sold 6.49 million N64s and Sony was still way out in front having sold 21.82 million PlayStations benefitting from another price cut dropping the console to less than £100, or £99.99 to be exact.
2000 was to be the last great year of the PlayStation thanks in no small part to the Japanese release of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past, a critical and commercial hit upon it’s release in August, America would have to wait until the following year where it would be released as Dragon Warrior VII, whilst Europe would miss out entirely (until the 3DS release in September of 2016), by April of 2001 the game had sold 4.06 million copies.
Other noticeable releases for the year included Vagrant Story, The Legend of Dragoon, Bloody Roar 3, Strider 2, Dino Crisis 2, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Breath of Fire IV, Final Fantasy IX, Beatmania, Colony Wars: Red Sun, Hogs of War, Fear Effect and Tomb Raider Chronicles.
2000 also saw the release of the PS One, a redesigned smaller cheaper version of the console, released in Japan on July 7th, North America on September 19th and in Europe on September 29th, the console came bundled with a white Dualshock controller to match the consoles colour scheme, although it was compatible with all PlayStation software the removal of parallel and serial ports from the rear of the console meant peripheral compatibility was a little more hit and miss, linking two PS One consoles together to play Doom or Ridge Racer Revolution was completely off the table.
The release of the PS One was a reasonable success and helped Sony sell 7.79 million PlayStations, narrowly beating its own PS2 which sold 6.4 million units, Sega had sold 2.279 million Dreamcast consoles, whilst Nintendo had sold 2.85 million N64s.
The PlayStation carried on through the early part of the new millennium slowly slipping down the year end charts as new game releases became thinner on the ground and new consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Gamecube took their place alongside Sony’s own PS2 to form the 6th generation of video game hardware, Sony again dropped the price of the PS One to just £49 in 2002 and packaged it with a 5" LCD screen for the £99 combo pack, by this point Sega sadly had thrown in the towel and given up the fight after the Dreamcast had failed to perform, they discontinued the console on March 31st 2001 and pulled out of the home console business altogether, from that point forward Sega would be a 3rd party games studio.
Sony eventually discontinued the PlayStation on March 6th 2006, just over six years after the release of its successor the PlayStation 2 and eight months before the release of the PlayStation 3, over its lifespan around 7,900 titles were released for the console, a figure only beaten by its successor, it was the first console to sell more than 100 million units, established Sony as a major player in the video game console market and paved the way for their continued success.