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The Legacy of PlayStation 2 – 20 Years On

Believe it or not, the PlayStation 2 is 20 years old. Sony’s successor to its original model proved a huge hit with audiences, shipping an incredible 155m units during a worldwide lifespan of 13 years.
Given that more recent consoles like Nintendo’s Wii U have only lasted five, that’s an almighty show of staying power. Even beyond the launch of the PS3, the console remained relevant to gamers and developers, who continued to release new titles.


All-Round Entertainment

The launch of the PlayStation 2 in 2000 helped create another step-change for the industry following the launch of its predecessor six years earlier. The original PlayStation was the first major console to use compact discs for gaming media and it doubled up as an audio player.
This helped evolve the function of consoles beyond just being gaming devices and into becoming true home entertainment machines. The PS2 built on those foundations by doubling up as a DVD player, while also playing audio CDs and boasting backward compatibility with PS1 games.

A Maturing Audience

Because many gaming consumers were now adults, consoles like the PS2 suddenly found themselves up against other technological leisure distractions, like social media and online casino gaming. The rise of the internet as an essential component of entertainment helped draw a more mature audience towards the digital entertainment sector.

The introduction and emergence of online casino gaming around this time was a big catalyst behind this trend, as fans of table games began playing live blackjack online, or other casino staples such as roulette and poker, that had been adapted for virtual play. This emergence helped gamers become more familiar with classic casino games and more accustomed to playing online or digitally. That, in turn, helped make their transition into other types of games, such as console titles, smoother.

Sony was in the best position to capitalize on this, while brands like Nintendo and Sega were largely unable to adapt to match the changing landscape. The PlayStation 2 led that change of image and helped turn the industry into the success it is today. After all, casino gaming is seen as slick, cool and grown-up. Console gaming began to take leaves out of that book.

That change in tastes is perhaps best reflected by the fact that two of the top 10 best-selling games for the console were titles from the Grand Theft Auto series – San Andreas (17.3m) and Vice City (9.6m) – alongside high-end driving simulator Gran Turismo 3 (14.8m). The PS2 helped respond to the changing demands of gamers by offering a more adult experience and both Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo remain big names in the industry, with new titles seemingly being developed all the time.

All of these features, following the success of the original PlayStation, made the PS2 an instant hit with a maturing gamer audience, who demanded a more sophisticated experience following a decade dominated by cartoon heroes like Mario and Sonic.

In a more abstract way, the PS2 slotted more easily into the lifestyle of the modern gamer. The rise of high-speed internet connections and faster PC processing power meant PC gaming was becoming far more advanced, but the console had the spec to cope with the competition.


A New Rivalry

The arrival of Microsoft and its debut Xbox console fed into that evolution, though it’s Sony who took the initial risk and laid the groundwork. The two brands have remained in lockstep since, attempting to outflank one another with each new hardware release.
As attention now turns to the latest generation of consoles – including Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X – the PS2’s graphics and features seem increasingly archaic. But, unlike many consoles from years past, the PlayStation 2 retains a stellar reputation in the gaming community.
And that Sony continues to hold the trump card in the console wars, with the PS4 comfortably outselling the Xbox One, is largely down to the legacy of the PlayStation 2.

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