The Story Behind The Playstation 2's Massive Success - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Story Behind The Playstation 2's Massive Success

On March 4th, 2020, one of the most successful consoles ever made, the Playstation 2 turned 20 years old. The console is still heralded today as the pinnacle of gaming and has impacted the industry in many different ways. So, why was it so successful? This article attempts to explain this.

What is Playstation 2?
The Playstation 2 (officially branded as PS2) is a games console made by Sony, released on the 4th March 2000 in Japan, and then 24th November 2000 worldwide. It's infamous for its design, ridged edges and black or silver casing. The controller is also infamous in its design, not changing too drastically ever since its launch. The first Playstation was successful but it was not until the second that success became more widespread and cemented the Playstation and Sony as industry-leading game makers. Over the years it has gained a mass catalog of games, which has been one of the many reasons why it became, and remains, so successful.

What did it bring to the world of gaming
The PS2 introduced many new things to what it meant to be a games console. However, one of the stand out features that it offered was the ability for the very first time to play games and DVDs. It was widely praised for this ability, as for price-sensitive consumers they were happy that they did not have to buy two machines in order to play two different media. You could play a game, then have some yakiniku for dinner, and switch to a movie in a few simple steps. This was not available as a feature before the PS2, so this was a huge factor in its success.

When the console launched it did not have the best collection of games, with the Sega Dreamcast machine having many more innovative titles at launch. However, as time progressed developers started to take advantage of the great power and new formula that this machine had to offer and the history speaks for itself. Priced at £299 (British Pounds) at the time at launch, this made it very attractive to the consumer as it was not much more expensive than DVD players of the time. So, arguably the PS2 became the first console to really become a household staple, rather than a teenage obsession.

Another feature that the PS2 added was support for online gaming. This was at the time the internet was still in its infancy, so it took a while for this feature to be fully accepted by the masses, little did they know that it would be the future of online gaming. Final Fantasy XI came with this ability and showed a fully functional multiplayer for the first time. Then, to add the cherry on top, Playstation One legacy game support was included, so you could play PS1 games on the PS2, which pleased Sony brand-loyal fans.

Why was it so successful?
So, why was it so successful? The features above really marked the PS2 differently from the competition of the time. From the DVD functionality to the technology inside that made it superior to the other machines on the market. Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft Xbox were innovating as well, but the PS2 eclipsed their sales. Over 3 million units were sold in its first year, and that was Japan alone. At the end of 2001, 20 million units were sold of the PS2 worldwide. The machine had ushered in a new era for gaming, gone were the days of ping pong, and it was the start of cinematic titles such as the first versions of Grand Theft Auto, like Vice City. Metal Gear Solid 2 and Devil May Cry were thrilling new titles that had not been seen before in the world of video games.

Graphics of the title games, the sleek design of the exterior of the machine. The specs of the technology inside the casing, to the online capabilities and DVD compatibility. All of these features and more combined secured the PS2 as the most popular and most successful video console of all time, and it still holds this record to this day. As we on the verge of the PS5 launching, we can see clearly the legacy of the PS2 which started 20 years ago.

A cultural landmark
Because the console sold so well, it allowed developers to really experiment and build new, never seen before games for a huge pool of PS2 players. These games really pushed the specs of the machine and used its key feature, the ‘Emotion Machine’ (Processor), in many different ways. For instance, Silent Hill 2 was a psychological horror game that took the world by storm. Nothing had really been seen like it before.

At the time the market was filled with more independent publishers, rather than the big publishing companies that are dominant today. More and more programmers were inspired to create games for this exciting new machine and some of these titles are still going today, with new series’ and generations of these classic games that all started with the PS2.

Not only did it usher in new formats and new games, but the PS2 also pushed the boundaries in User Interfaces with games such as Guitar Hero showing off brand new ways to interact with a game. Other examples include Singstar with its USB microphones, and EyeToy camera which showed the first uses of AR.

Xbox and Nintendo were racing to keep up, and whilst they released equally great games the PS2 still dominated. Overall, it sold 160 million units, again a number that has not been matched since and still remains to this day the most popular console ever made.The console has become a staple to many people’s lives. Memories of playing the PlayStation 2 as a child, to the games we still play today (like Grand Theft Auto 5 and the new 6th version coming soon), to the controller which is virtually unchanged.

Many people still play the console today and some still use it as their primary console to play on. It’s not hard to see why. The PlayStation 2 really did change the world of gaming as we knew it and twenty years later we can still feel its impact. Will its record ever be broken? Most likely not as consoles have become more and more focused on professional gaming.

The world of gaming is ever changing and evolving with new technology and developments, yet the PS2 still lives on, and on its 20th birthday we say thank you for the cultural, technological and societal impact it bought into our lives!

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