Shipments of Sony’s Playstation 2 end in Japan.

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The curtain draws to a close on one of the most prolific and successful console systems in video game history.  Sony announced on December 28th that they have ended manufacture of all versions of the Playstation 2, effectively ending an era that saw the transition from early cinematic gaming to the entertainment powerhouse that today rivals the motion picture industry.

The Sony Playstation 2 had sold 154 million units by early 2011, coupled with 1.52 billion units of software.  It has hosted some of the most ground breaking titles in gaming history, such as Final Fantasy X, X-2, XI, and XII, which together sold over six million copies in Japan alone, as well as Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Kingdom Hearts I and II, much of the Dynasty Warrior series, and Dragon Quest V and VIII, the latter of which sold nearly 4 million copies in Japan.  Another contributor to the system’s success was the ability to play DVD movies, eliminating the need to own a separate DVD player at a comparable price point to the stand alone devices.

The system’s thirteen year history saw the beginnings of the shift to online gaming, and although the Dreamcast pioneered many of the features we see in today’s consoles, several MMO’s and military shooters that laid the groundwork for online gaming conventions debuted on the PS2.  The PS2 also featured an expandable hard drive, though few games utilized it, and the Eye Toy, an early attempt at camera based motion controlled gaming.

Sony's original Playstation 2 design on the left, with their updated "Slim" model on the right.

Sony’s original Playstation 2 design on the left, with their updated “Slim” model on the right.

The system’s last official entry into its two thousand plus strong library will be Final Fantasy XI: Adoulin no Makyou, an expansion to an MMO released in 2002.  It is scheduled to come out in early 2013, around the same time the last few units hit store shelves in Japan. This shows that the system will still be supported for some time to come by developers, despite the halt in manufacture.