Development of PS2

- May 13, 2019-

PlayStation 2 (PS2)

PlayStation was dominant for years and didn't face much competition until the sixth generation of consoles. That era arrived in Japan in 1998 with the Sega Dreamcast, the first console to embrace the Internet as part of gaming; there was even an integrated Web browser, albeit with connection over a 56K modem. Sega's success looked promising after initial sales of 500,000 units in just two weeks at the start of North American sales in September 1999.


While the Dreamcast certainly did a lot to restore Sega's bruised reputation, it wasn't enough, especially after Sony announced the imminent PlayStation 2 at the Tokyo Game Show later that month. Dreamcast sales went down the toilet and Sega halted production on March 30, 2001. (Refurbished Dreamcast machines continued to sell in Japan until 2007.)

The PlayStation 2 had a lot to live up to and managed just fine, reaching 150 million units sold by February 2011—only 10 years and 11 months after its initial Japanese release in March 2000, according to Sony. (The most current number is 155 million as of March 2012—12 years after the initial release). Backward compatibility—the ability to play games from the last generation console—made the transition smooth for PS-philes.

Not that the PS2 didn't have some issues. It was hard to find, with consoles selling for more than $1,000 on eBay. And the initial game slate was not stellar. It had disc-read errors so bad it got sued. But as the only major new console it had the 2000 holiday shopping season almost entirely to itself (Dreamcast notwithstanding). Plus it could play DVDs—and that was the year The Matrix was hot.

Nintendo's cheaper GameCube and Microsoft's first Xbox didn't arrive in North America until November 2001. Sony knocked the PS2 price down to $199 in response, equaling the GameCube. By 2002 Sony realized online gameplay, personified by the Xbox's breakout hit Halo, was a drawcard and began offering a network adapter. In 2004 the slimline PS2 shipped—but almost didn't due to manufacturing and shipping problems.

Sony announced the PS2 would be discontinued worldwide in January 2013.