Dec. 28, 2012 at 7:38 PM ET
It looks like "game over" for the PlayStation 2.
After selling more than 153.6 million units over 12 years, Sony Computer Entertainment of Japan has announced that it is discontinuing the console, with no new shipments slated for retailers. (This is only for Japan at the moment, though it's likely the European and American markets will follow suit.)
With PlayStation 3 development in full swing, and several new games on the way for 2013 (including "Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time" and "The Last of Us" from Naughty Dog Studios), the decision makes sense. But the PlayStation 2 had a long shelf life and introducing a number of game franchises and sequels that have enthralled millions of casual and hardcore players alike.
The PlayStation 2 debuted in 2000 and spent several years competing against Microsoft's Xbox system, Sega's Dreamcast console and Nintendo's GameCube. The system launched in the U.S. with 29 games, including landmark titles like the snowboarding game "SSX" and the arcade driving game "Ridge Racer V." Eventually it would see even bigger and better games through both long-awaited sequels and original titles. [See also: Atari Legacy Still Going Strong At 40 Years]
Naughty Dog, moving beyond the "Crash Bandicoot" series it had established on the PS One system, created "Jak and Daxter," a gorgeous platforming adventure series featuring an unlikely duo — an adventurous hero and his wisecracking animal partner. Not to be outdone, Sucker Punch Productions introduced its own cartoon-like action series under the name "Sly Cooper," focusing on a likable raccoon thief and his "crew" (consisting of a genius turtle and a bumbling hippo getaway driver).
The PlayStation 2 was also the place to find several big-name sequels. Polyphony Digital's "Gran Turismo" racing series became more life-like than ever before, with exquisite visuals and realistic gameplay that made you feel like you were really behind the wheel. (It would become the go-to simulation for car drivers all over the world, working in collaboration with Logitech's state-of-the-art Driving Force GT Wheel.)
Square Enix expanded its "Final Fantasy" franchise in a number of ways, as well as its Disney crossover role-playing series "Kingdom Hearts." And Rockstar Games managed to make its "Grand Theft Auto" games better than ever before, between such best-selling hits as "Grand Theft Auto III," the 80's based "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" and the urban-based "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," all of which sold well into the millions.
When the PlayStation 3 came out in 2006, Sony shifted its focus to that new hardware, but kept the PlayStation 2 on the market, lowering it to a $100 price with various pack-ins. (Depending on where you bought it — you could get "Lego Batman" and "Toy Story 3"included). It continued to sell well throughout the years, and some developers continued to make games for it, like EA Sports with its "Madden" franchise. But by the time 2012 rolled around, no new games were slated for it, and the writing was on the wall.
The PlayStation 2 will never be forgotten as far as gaming is concerned — not to mention the fact that most of its popular games are coming to the PlayStation 3, either as part of an HD re-release ("Ratchet and Clank Collection," "Ico/Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection") or a digital download on PlayStation Network ("Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" just came out last week for $14.99).
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