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TMCNet:  Game over: Sony calls time on PlayStation 2: 150m units of home games machine sold worldwide Design and timing among reasons for huge success

[January 04, 2013]

Game over: Sony calls time on PlayStation 2: 150m units of home games machine sold worldwide Design and timing among reasons for huge success

(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) It was the console that defined an era - but Sony's PlayStation 2 has finally reached game over. The company has confirmed that after 12 years and 150m units sold worldwide, making it the most successful home games machine of all time, all PS2 production has ended worldwide.

Launched in 2000, the successor to the original PlayStation ended up with a library of more than 10,000 games titles by 2011, with 1.52bn individual games sold since launch. "At the height of the PlayStation 2's success, the word effectively came to mean video games for a lot of people," said Anna Marsh, a game designer who worked on Tomb Raider and Hitman.

Its success was down to three factors: cunning design, excellent games and great timing. Sony's decision to include a DVD player meant the machine found its way into living rooms, exposing many more to gaming. It trounced the Nintendo GameCube and Sega Dreamcast, and became the exclusive home of must-have games such as Grand Theft Auto III - dominating an era in which developers were changing the rules of game design, crafting ambitious cinematic experiences and vast open-world adventures.

Piers Harding-Rolls, a senior analyst at IHS Screen Digest, said: "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." But consumer technology has changed since the PS2's glory days. "Game consoles used to be the only boxes you owned with any sizzle or personality," says Tom Bramwell, editor of the games site Eurogamer. "Nowadays smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart TVs all have amazing industrial design, features and content, and it's much harder to stand out if everyone else looks cool as well." Sony is struggling with its latest handheld device, the PS Vita, which has only sold 4m units in 10 months, while the iPhone, iPad and Android devices sold more than 200m in 2012. Consumers are now used to downloading cheap games on smartphones - hence the success of titles such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.

"The industry has become so fractured, I'm not sure we'll see another console that gets that sort of penetration into the public consciousness," said Marsh.

The PlayStation 3, launched in 2006, has never matched its predecessor's success, so far selling about 70m units. It was expensive to develop, featuring a proprietary central processor and a blue laser for its Blu-ray drive - a technology that was still being finalised and tested. Released a year after Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's console has never caught up despite a free multiplayer online service.

Microsoft is also expected to announce a new console this summer.

(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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