PlayStation 2

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The PlayStation 2 (PS2) 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, in North America on October 26, 2000 and 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 105 million units shipped worldwide by March 31, 2006. Upon its release, the PS2 set the mark of being the fastest selling console at launch, breaking the record held previously by the Sega Dreamcast. As of September 2006, the PS2 still outsells its competition, the GameCube and the Xbox in North America and Japan.


Only a few million users had obtained consoles by the end of 2000 due to manufacturing delays. The PlayStation 2 was popular after its release so it was quite hard to find one on retailer shelves. Another popular option was purchasing the console online through auction websites such as eBay. 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 partly 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 competition. Later, Sony gained steam with new development kits for game developers and more PlayStations for consumers.

A notable piece of advertising is that the PS2 launch was accompanied by the popular "PS9" television commercial. 9 was to be the epitome of development, which the PS2 was the next step on the way towards. The ad also presaged the development of a portable PlayStation (Released in Japan on December 12, 2004, the United States and Canada on March 24, 2005 and in Europe and Australia on September 1, 2005.

Many analysts predicted a close 3-way matchup between the PS2 and its soon-to-be-released competitors Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube (which was the cheapest of the 3 consoles). However, the release of several blockbuster games during the 2001 holiday season pushed the PS2 in order to maintain momentum and hold off its potential rivals.

Although Sony placed little emphasis on online gaming during its first year, that changed upon the launch of the online-capable Xbox. Sony adapted in late 2002 to compete with Microsoft, with several online first party titles released alongside it, such as SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs to show its active support for Internet play. Sony also advertised heavily, and its online model had the by Electronic Arts. 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 attempt made online gaming a major selling point of the PS2.

In September of 2004, 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) (Also known unofficially as the "PStwo".), 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, 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, British sales totalled 6,000 units — compared to 70,000 a few weeks prior. There were shortages in more than 1700 stores in North America on the day before Christmas.

Hardware compatibility

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 cheap CD-ROM discs or higher-capacity DVD-ROM discs. The ability to play DVD movies was an added incentive for consumers to be able to justify purchasing the PS2 (The MSRP was $300 in October 2000). The PS2 also supports PS1 memory cards (for PS1 game saves only) and controllers as well. The PS2's Dual Shock 2 controller is essentially an upgraded PS1 Dual Shock; analog face, shoulder and D-pad buttons replaced the digital buttons of the original.

When it was released, the PS2 had many advanced features that were not present in other contemporary video game consoles, including DVD-playback functionality, USB support, and IEEE 1394 expansion ports. It was not until late 2001 that the Microsoft Xbox became the second console to include USB support (USB Revision 1.1 [aka, Full-Speed USB], with a proprietary Microsoft Xbox shaped socket) and DVD playback capabilities.

Note: Compatibility with USB devices is dependent on the software supporting said USB device. For example, the PS2 BIOS will not boot an ISO image from a USB flash drive, or operate a USB printer, as the machine's operating system does not include this functionality. By contrast, Gran Turismo 4 is programmed to save screenshots to a USB mass storage device, or print images to certain USB printers.

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