The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is a home video game console that was developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the successor to the PlayStation, and is the second installment in the PlayStation lineup of consoles. It was released on March 4, 2000 in Japan, October 26, 2000 in North America, November 24, 2000 in Europe, and November 17, 2000 in Australia. It competed with Sega’s Dreamcast, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s GameCube in the sixth generation of video game consoles.
Announced in 1999, the PlayStation 2 was the first PlayStation console to offer backwards compatibility for its predecessor’s DualShock controller, as well as for its games. The PlayStation 2 is the best-selling video game console of all time, selling over 155 million units, with 150 million confirmed by Sony in 2011.More than 3,874 game titles have been released for the PS2 since launch, and more than 1.5 billion copies have been sold. Sony later manufactured several smaller, lighter revisions of the console known as Slimline models in 2004 and well on, and in 2006, announced and launched its successor, the PlayStation 3.
Even with the release of its successor, the PlayStation 2 remained popular well into the seventh generation and continued to be produced until January 4, 2013, when Sony finally announced that the PlayStation 2 had been discontinued after 13 years of production – one of the longest runs for a video game console. Despite the announcement, new games for the console continued to be produced until the end of 2013, including Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin for Japan, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 for North America and Europe, and FIFA 14 for Brazil.
Sony announced the PlayStation 2 (PS2) on March 1, 1999. The video game console was positioned as a competitor to Sega’s Dreamcast, the first sixth-generation console to be released, although ultimately the main rivals of the PS2 were Nintendo’s GameCube and Microsoft’s Xbox. The Dreamcast itself launched very successfully in North America later that year, selling over 500,000 units within two weeks.
Soon after the Dreamcast’s North American launch, Sony unveiled the PlayStation 2 at the Tokyo Game Show on September 20, 1999. Sony showed fully playable demos of upcoming PlayStation 2 games including Gran Turismo 2000 (later released as Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec) and Tekken Tag Tournament – which showed the console’s graphic abilities and power.
The PS2 was launched in March 2000 in Japan, October in North America and November in Europe. Sales of the console, games and accessories pulled in $250 million on the first day, beating the $97 million made on the first day of the Dreamcast. Directly after its release, it was difficult to find PS2 units on retailer shelves due to manufacturing delays.
Another option was purchasing the console online through auction websites such as eBay, where people paid over a thousand dollars for the console. The PS2 initially sold well partly on the basis of the strength of the PlayStation brand and the console’s backward compatibility, selling over 980,000 units in Japan by March 5, 2000, one day after launch. This allowed the PS2 to tap the large install base established by the PlayStation – another major selling point over the competition.
Later, Sony added new development kits for game developers and more PS2 units for consumers. The PS2’s built-in functionality also expanded its audience beyond the gamer, as its debut pricing was the same or less than a standalone DVD player. This made the console a low cost entry into the home theater market.
The success of the PS2 at the end of 2000 caused Sega problems both financially and competitively, and Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast in March 2001, just 18 months after its successful launch. The PS2 remained as the only active sixth generation console for over 6 months, before it would face competition from newer rivals; Nintendo’s GameCube and Microsoft’s Xbox, which were then released.
Many analysts predicted a close three-way matchup among the three consoles; the Xbox having the most powerful hardware, while the GameCube was the least expensive console, and Nintendo changed its policy to encourage third-party developers.
While the PlayStation 2 theoretically had the weakest specification of the three, it had a head start due to its installed base plus strong developer commitment, as well as a built-in DVD player (the Xbox required an adapter, while the GameCube lacked support entirely).
While the PlayStation 2’s initial games lineup was considered mediocre, this changed during the 2001 holiday season with the release of several blockbuster games that maintained the PS2’s sales momentum and held off its newer rivals. Sony also countered the Xbox by temporarily securing PlayStation 2 exclusives for highly anticipated games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.