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It seems that Sony is finally killing off the long-lived PlayStation 2. Today the company announced that they're stopping new shipments of the console to Japanese retailers.
The PS2 debuted in Japan in March 2000, and then spread to other territories in subsequent years. The console has been phenomenally successfully for Sony. It sold 150+ million units as of November 2011. Software sales were strong as well, with around 1.52 billion games purchased worldwide. New games are still being produced for the console (recent example: FIFA 13), although this has slowed to a trickle in recent years.
What's really impressive about the PS2's longevity is that it's survived in the shade of its successor for so long. The PS3 has been available since 2006. I wonder how much the PS3's lack of backwards-compatibility with PS2 games has contributed to the older console's health. It meant that anyone who wanted to play PS2 games had to buy that console, or wait for a possible re-release of those titles on PlayStation Network.
Now seems like as good of a time as any to finally discontinue the console. The next PlayStation will supposedly arrive in 2013. That would mean that the PS3 would usurp the PS2's role as the budget alternative.
An obituary for the PS2 is a bit premature, though. As Famitsu notes, the existing supply of the console will still be sold in stores. Furthermore, there's no mention of Sony stopping shipments to any other territories throughout the world.