It's been a long, long twelve years for the Playstation 2. Sony's little machine that could first launched here in the United States way back in 2000, demolishing what little lead the Sega Dreamcast had and going straight up against the Nintendo Gamecube and Microsoft Xbox.
Sony had already seen some success with the Playstation, which went up against the Nintendo 64. The Playstation didn't introduce CD gaming to the market, but it did it the best (at the time). The Nintendo 64 held it's own, but Sony was set up to lead the market in 2000 with the Playstation 2.
When the Playstation 2 launched, you have to realize the market was a very different place. At the time, DVD players were still very expensive, and Sony just happened to make sure the PS2 could play DVDs. This was a major coup for the PS2, as the Dreamcast, a disc based system that launched before the PS2, couldn't play DVDs. Many people who went out to buy Playstation 2's, did so because they were inexpensive DVD players.
The Playstation 2, graphically, couldn't match the Xbox and in some cases, the Gamecube. However the PS2 had a solid first party and great third party line up. Thanks to it being the first out of the gate during it's generation, it easily sold more then the Xbox and Gamecube. Finally coming to a close last year, the end total is 150 million units sold worldwide.
The Playstation 2 has a library of more then 10,000 games (if you count games from overseas). The term "PS2" also came to mean "video games" when people talked about gaming. The same way Atari or Nintendo meant video games during their respective decades.
The system was fortunate to have the DVD player built in, an early start on the Xbox and Gamecube, and exclusive titles like "Grand Theft Auto 3", "Final Fantasy" and "Metal Gear Solid". Those games dominated consoles, even after some of them were ported to other systems, they were mostly predominant on the PS2.
"Sony also had a hugely successful marketing strategy, especially its association with football, which saw it gain great penetration in many territories where console gaming was underdeveloped. The PS2 went beyond the first PlayStation by expanding its audience in its later years, introducing lifestyle and social games that helped drive adoption in the mid-2000s." said Pier Harding-Rolls, a senior analyst with IHS Screen Digest.
The Playstation 3 launched in 2006, and even though the upgrade was there, many gamers stuck with their PS2's because new games continued to come out. Also, the high buy in price for the PS3 made it a hard sell for most gamers. Sony, once again playing it smart, made sure they included Blu-Ray technology into their PS3, and for a time, the PS3 was a cheap Blu-Ray player (that's since changed).
There's little reason to believe a console will last the same amount of time the Playstation 2 did. While Microsoft and Sony are looking to launch their next consoles in a year or so, there is no word if they'll continue to support the consoles they currently have now. While console cycles have started to last longer then they used to, it's becoming more of a cash grab for companies to move on as quickly as possible.
There are still brand new Playstation 2's to be bought by consumers, as plenty of retail stores still stock them. Once those are gone however, gamers who want to pick up the system will have to buy used, which isn't the worst thing in the world.
So if you haven't ever owned a PS2, you've still got time to buy a new one. If you've been wanting to get back into PS2 gaming, since most PS3 consoles do not support PS2 backwards compatibility, now's the time to pick up a new console.
Playstation 2: 2000-2012