On March 4, 2000, exactly 20 years ago, Sony launched the PlayStation 2 in Japan.
It was released in the US, Europe and the rest of the world a year later and would go on to become the best-selling console of all time.
To put this into context, its main rivals at the time, Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube, would sell 25 million and 22 million consoles worldwide respectively on their first release versus Sony PS2’s 155 million!
It certainly helped that the PS2 was able to release such memorable games like RockStar Games ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’, which sold 17.3 million copies.
Other games included ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’, which was part of PlayStation’s iconic series that was set in the 1960s during the Cold War.
Not to mention there was zombie filled ‘Resident Evil’ franchise and the terrifying ‘Silent Hill’.
The success of the PS2 was widely due to Ken Kutaragi.
His big idea in the latest round of console battles at the time was to add in a DVD player compatibility with the PS2.
DVDs were the latest new format to view movies on at the time and an entry-level price for a DVD Player was £600.
The other unique selling point was the backward compatibility; with some exceptions you could play your favourite PlayStation games on the new PS2.
This was another significant advantage that Kutaragi was able to introduce on his creation as both the Xbox and the GameCube did not have this function due to it being Microsoft’s first video console, and you could not play previous Nintendo 64 games on the GameCube.
Editor of Eurogamer, Oli Welsh said: “Backwards compatibility was a very cool feature. It really helped make a purchasing decision on a new console if you knew you could still be able to play your old games on it.
“Much more important to the PS2’s success was it’s ability to play DVDs. DVD was a relatively new format at the time and the PS2 was competitively priced with standalone DVD Players, but could play games as well. This made the purchase a no-brainer for households.”
Overall looking back, Kutaragi’s creation certainly set the standard which other video consoles looked to replicate.
We can only imagine what the latest upgrades Sony’s PlayStation 5 will bring when it is released later this year.
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