The history of the Philips CD-i, failed PlayStation ancestor

Behold the Philips CD-i! It’s got Mario! Zelda! Movies on CD! Uh, interactive encyclopedias! What could go wrong? Apparently, everything.

Born out of the same aborted efforts to create a CD-based console for Nintendo that would eventually produce the Sony Playstation, the CD-i was an ambitious attempt to create a multi-purpose home entertainment console. However, instead of kickstarting the trend of CD-based gaming, the CD-i turned into one of the great failures of the video game industry, reportedly costing Philips near a billion dollars by the time it was discontinued.

Nonetheless, it did end up fostering some amazingly idiosyncratic (and widely reviled) pieces of video game history.

Since I’m Dutch and have lived in The Netherlands my whole life, I feel like the CD-i is a much greater part of my memory than of people in other countries. Philips is a Dutch company, after all, and I vaguely recall the CD-i being hyped into the stratosphere over here. I wanted one when the hype started, but I never did even see one in real life.


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