The PlayStation 2 (PS2) (Japanese: プレイステーション2) is Sony's second video game console, the successor to the PlayStation and the predecessor to the PlayStation 3. Its development was announced in March 1999, and it was first released in Japan on March 4, 2000 and in the North American market on October 26, 2000. more...
It was released in Europe on November 24, 2000.
The PS2 is part of the sixth generation era, and has become the fastest selling gaming console in history, with over 100 million units shipped, beating the previous record holder, the PlayStation, by three years and nine months.
The PlayStation 2 had a difficult start. Only a few million users had obtained consoles by the end of 2000 due to manufacturing delays. Developers also complained that it was difficult to develop for the system, with little in the way of reference material from Sony for its exotic architecture. The PS2 launch seemed unimpressive and gaffe-prone, compared to the well-planned launch of the Sega Dreamcast, which was making a genuine attempt to woo developers and which had better launch titles. Yet, the PS2 initially sold well solely on the basis of the strength of the PlayStation brand and its backwards compatibility, selling over 900,000 units in the first weekend in Japan. This allowed the PS2 to tap the large install base established by the PlayStation. Another major selling point over the Dreamcast was the PlayStation 2's ability to play DVDs, which gained it a presence in electronics stores which did not formerly sell video game consoles. Later, Sony gained steam with new development kits for game developers and more PlayStations for consumers.
Many analysts predicted a close 3-way matchup between the PS2 and its soon-to-be-released competitors Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube, noting that the PS2's graphics were inferior but that it had the advantage of a head start, and had a wide assortment of games of every genre (Xbox's strength was in its hardware; GameCube was the cheapest of the 3 consoles). However, the release of several blockbuster games during the 2001 holiday season pushed the PS2 far in front even as the Xbox and GameCube made their impressive debuts.
Although Sony placed little emphasis on online gaming during its first year, all that changed because of the launch of the online-capable Xbox. Not only did Sony roll out the PS2 online adapter in late 2002 to compete with Microsoft, several online launch games were first party titles such as SOCOM US Navy SEALS in order to show that Sony was supporting this feature actively. Sony also advertised heavily as well and it had the advantage of being supported by Electronic Arts. As a result, although Sony and Nintendo both started out late and although both followed a decentralized model of online gaming where the responsibility is up to the developer to provide the servers, Sony's efforts made PS2 online gaming a big success.
Hardware sales remained strong until 2004 saw the console apparently approaching saturation point. In September of that year, in time for the launch of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the best-selling game during the 2004 Holiday season), Sony revealed a new, smaller PS2 (see Hardware revisions).
In preparation for the launch of a new, slimmer PlayStation 2 model (SCPH-70000), Sony had stopped making the older PS2 model (SCPH-5000x) sometime during the summer of 2004 to let the distribution channel empty out stock of the units. After an apparent manufacturing issue caused some initial slowdown in producing the new unit, Sony reportedly underestimated demand, caused in part by shortages between the time the old units were cleared out and the new units were ready. This led to further shortages, and the issue was compounded in Britain when a Russian oil tanker became stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking a ship from China carrying PS2s bound for the UK. During one week in November, sales in the entire country of Britain totalled 6,000 units — compared to 70,000 a few weeks prior. Shortages in North America were also extremely severe; one retail chain in the U.S., GameStop, had just 186 PS2 and Xbox units on hand across more than 1700 stores on the day before Christmas.
When the PlayStation 2 launched in Japan in March 2000, Sony sold 940,000 units over the opening weekend.
When the PlayStation 2 launched in America in October 26, 2000, Sony sold 510,000 units within the first 24 hours. With a price of $299.99 per console, Sony made gross sales of roughly $153,000,000. To this day, the PS2 holds the record for the most consoles sold in a single day as well as the record for most consoles sold in launch day in America. PS2's opening day console sales eclipsed the previous record of 225,000 made by the Sega Dreamcast in 1999.
The PlayStation 2 holds the record of fastest selling video game console ever, 100 million PlayStation 2 units were shipped in only five years and nine months, shattering the previous record of nine years and six months by the PlayStation.
The PlayStation brand's strength has lead to strong third-party support for the system. Although the launch titles for the PS2 were unimpressive in 2000, the holiday season of 2001 saw the release of several best-selling and critically acclaimed games. Those PS2 titles helped the PS2 maintain and extend its lead in the video game console market, despite increased competition from the launches of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. Critically acclaimed games on the machine are the Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy series, the latest two Metal Gear Solid titles, all three Devil May Cry titles, the SSX series, latest three Ace Combat titles, the Square Enix/Disney collaboration Kingdom Hearts, and first-party Sony Computer Entertainment brands such as the Gran Turismo, SOCOM, Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter series, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War and the Everquest spin-offs Champions of Norrath and Champions: Return to Arms.
The PS2 hardware can read both compact discs and DVDs. It is backwards compatible with older PlayStation (PS1) games, allows for DVD Video playback, and will play PS2 games off of cheap CD-ROMs or higher-capacity DVD-ROMs. The ability to play DVD movies allowed consumers to more easily justify the PS2's relatively high price tag (in October 2000, the MSRP was $300) as it removed the need to buy an external DVD player (indeed, it could be said that the success of the DVD format was partly due to the PS2's ability to play DVDs, as the format seemed to appeal more to consumers after the console's launch). The PS2 also supports PS1 memory cards (for PS1 game saves only) and controllers (the PS2's Dual Shock 2 controller is essentially a slightly upgraded PS1 Dual Shock).
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