NEW YORK â€” The Sony PlayStation 2 debuted in 2000, before the beginning of the Bush administration, when Google Inc was still a private search startup and the iPod and Windows XP hadnâ€™t been born. Yet despite its age in a business obsessed with the new, the video game console remains a big seller today.
In fact, Sony Corp announced Tuesday that it has sold 50 million PlayStation 2 units in North America.
Microsoft Corp, meanwhile, has already discontinued the original Xbox, which launched a year after Sonyâ€™s PS2. According to the most recently available figures from the NPD Group, which tracks U.S. sales only, Redmond, Wash-based Microsoft sold 14.5 million of those Xbox consoles. Nintendo Coâ€™s GameCube, another PS2 competitor, sold 12 million units in the country. NPD puts U.S.-only sales of the PS2 through November at 43 million.
In November, Americans bought 206,000 units of the PlayStation 2, which now costs $130, down from its original $300 price tag. The people buying it are no longer the early adopters and hardcore gamers, but rather, lower-income consumers and families who want to get into â€” or back into â€” gaming, said John Koller, director of hardware marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America.
The PlayStation 2â€™s successor, the $400 PlayStation 3, sold 378,000 units in November. Launched in 2006, it has lagged its rivals, Microsoftâ€™s Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii, when it comes to unit sales. Its price likely has a lot to do with this. While the console includes a Blu-ray player and other extra features, itâ€™s more expensive than the $250 Wii and the cheapest Xbox 360, which goes for $200.
Daniel DeMatteo, the chief executive of video game retailer GameStop Corp, recently called the PS3 a â€œgreat machine,â€ but said it is a bit pricey for a recession.
When the PlayStation 2 debuted, its early popularity was enhanced by its inclusion of a DVD player, which was innovative in 2000. These days, beyond its price, the PS2 is still attractive because Sony nurtures it. Now-iconic titles like â€œGrand Theft Auto IIIâ€ and the original â€œGuitar Heroâ€ made their name on the PlayStation 2, and Sony continues to churn out new games for the console.
â€œWe donâ€™t intend on discarding the system any time soon,â€ Koller said, without going into more specifics.