Playstation 2

The Sony PlayStation 2

The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is Sony's second video game console, the successor to the PlayStation and the predecessor to the PlayStation 3. Its development was announced in March 1999, and it was first released in Japan on March 4, 2000 and in North America and Puerto Rico on October 26, 2000. It was released in Europe on November 24, 2000.

The PS2 is part of the sixth generation era, and has become the fastest selling gaming console in history, with over 100 million units shipped by November 2005, beating the previous record holder, the PlayStation, by three years and nine months.


Only a few million users had obtained consoles by the end of 2000 due to manufacturing delays. The PlayStation 2 was such a hot item after its release that it was near impossible to find one on retailer shelves, leaving those wanting a PlayStation 2 to either wait or purchase the console online at sites such as eBay, where the console was being sold by many people for twice and sometimes five times as much as the manufacturer's listed price. Developers also complained that it was difficult to develop for the system, with little in the way of reference material from Sony for its exotic architecture. The PS2 launch seemed unimpressive and gaffe-prone, compared to the well-planned launch of the Sega Dreamcast, which was making a genuine attempt to woo developers and which had better launch titles.

Yet, the PS2 initially sold well solely on the basis of the strength of the PlayStation brand and its backwards compatibility, selling over 900,000 units in the first weekend in Japan. This allowed the PS2 to tap the large install base established by the PlayStation. Another major selling point over the Dreamcast was the PlayStation 2's ability to play DVDs, which gained it a presence in electronics stores which did not formerly sell video game consoles. Later, Sony gained steam with new development kits for game developers and more PlayStations for consumers.

Many analysts predicted a close 3-way matchup between the PS2 and its soon-to-be-released competitors Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube, noting that the PS2's graphics were inferior but that it had the advantage of a head start, and had a wide assortment of games of every genre (Xbox's strength was in its hardware; GameCube was the cheapest of the 3 consoles). However, the release of several blockbuster games during the 2001 holiday season pushed the PS2 far in front even as the Xbox and GameCube made their impressive debuts. Shortly afterwards, Sony also slashed PS2 prices greater than expected in order to maintain momentum and hold off its potential rivals.

Although Sony placed little emphasis on online gaming during its first year, that changed upon the launch of the online-capable Xbox. Sony rolled a PS2 online adapter in late 2002 to compete with Microsoft, with several online first party online titles released alongside it, such as SOCOM US Navy SEALS in order to show that Sony was supporting this feature actively. Sony also advertised heavily, and its online model had the advantage of being supported by Electronic Arts. As a result, although Sony and Nintendo both started out late and although both followed a decentralized model of online gaming where the responsibility is up to the developer to provide the servers, Sony's attempt was the more successful between the two. The Xbox Live system (with it's built in capabilities) is however the most successful of the three.

Hardware sales remained strong until 2004 saw the console apparently approaching saturation point, causing it to lose the top sales position for a time. The heavy dependence of Sony on its Computer Entertainment division was shown when dropping PlayStation 2 sales caused the parent's profits to fall 89%. During that year, game sales fell to $7.5 billion from $8.2 billion. Its operating income slid to $650 million from $1 billion, losing $25 million in Q4 of 2004.. According to NPD Group the Xbox outsold PS2 during 5 months of 2004: April, July, August, November and December. Despite this, Sony console won the total 2004 sales by 600,000 units of difference.

In September of that year, in time for the launch of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the best-selling game during the 2004 Holiday season), Sony revealed a new, smaller PS2 (see Hardware revisions). In preparation for the launch of a new, slimmer PlayStation 2 model (SCPH-70000), Sony had stopped making the older PS2 model (SCPH-5000x) sometime during the summer of 2004 to let the distribution channel empty out stock of the units. After an apparent manufacturing issue caused some initial slowdown in producing the new unit, Sony reportedly underestimated demand, caused in part by shortages between the time the old units were cleared out and the new units were ready. This led to further shortages, and the issue was compounded in Britain when a Russian oil tanker became stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking a ship from China carrying PS2s bound for the UK. During one week in November, sales in the entire country of Britain totalled 6,000 units — compared to 70,000 a few weeks prior. Shortages in North America were also extremely severe; one retail chain in the U.S., GameStop, had just 186 PS2 and Xbox units on hand across more than 1700 stores on the day before Christmas.

Sales record

When the PlayStation 2 launched in Japan in March 2000, Sony sold 980,000 units over the opening weekend.

When the PlayStation 2 launched in America in October 26, 2000, Sony sold 510,000 units within the first 24 hours. With a price of $299.99 per console, Sony made gross sales of roughly $153,000,000. To this day, the PS2 holds the record for the most consoles sold in a single day as well as the record for most consoles sold in launch day in America. PS2's opening day console sales eclipsed the previous record of 225,000 made by the Sega Dreamcast in 1999.

The PlayStation 2 holds the record of fastest selling video game console ever, 100 million PlayStation 2 units were shipped in only five years and nine months, shattering the previous record of nine years and six months by the PlayStation.


The PlayStation brand's strength has led to strong third-party support for the system. Although the launch titles for the PS2 were unimpressive in 2000, the holiday season of 2001 saw the release of several best-selling and critically acclaimed games. Those PS2 titles helped the PS2 maintain and extend its lead in the video game console market, despite increased competition from the launches of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. In several cases, Sony made exclusivity deals with publishers in order to pre-empt its competitors. Critically acclaimed games on the machine include the Grand Theft Auto and the ever-popular Final Fantasy (Square Enix) series, the latest two Metal Gear Solid titles, Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3, the SSX series, latest three Ace Combat titles, the Square Enix/Disney collaboration Kingdom Hearts, and first-party Sony Computer Entertainment brands such as the Gran Turismo, SOCOM, Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter series, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War and the Everquest spin-offs Champions of Norrath and Champions: Return to Arms.

Hardware compatibility

The PS2 hardware can read both compact discs and DVDs. It is backwards compatible with older PlayStation (PS1) games, allows for DVD Video playback, and will play PS2 games off cheap CD-ROMs or higher-capacity DVD-ROMs. The ability to play DVD movies allowed consumers to more easily justify the PS2's relatively high price tag (in October 2000, the MSRP was $300) as it removed the need to buy an external DVD player (indeed, it could be said that the success of the DVD format was partly due to the PS2's ability to play DVDs, as the format seemed to appeal more to consumers after the console's launch). The PS2 also supports PS1 memory cards (for PS1 game saves only) and controllers as well. The PS2's Dual Shock 2 controller is essentially an upgraded PS1 Dual Shock; analog face, shoulder and D-pad buttons replaced the digital buttons of the original.

When it was released, the PS2 had many advanced features that were not present in other contemporary video game consoles, including its DVD capabilities and USB and IEEE 1394 expansion ports. It was not until late 2001 that the Microsoft Xbox became the second console with (non-standard) USB and DVD support. (This is assuming the Nuon, an advanced DVD player graphics coprocessor, is not considered a console.) Even then, the Xbox required separate remote accessory to unlock the DVD function and Sony could continue to pitch the PS2 as DVD capable out of the box.

Note that compatability with USB devices is dependent on the software supporting said USB device. For example, the PS2 will not boot an ISO image from a USB flash drive, but Gran Turismo 4 can save screenshots to one.

Software compatibility

Support for original PlayStation games was also an important selling point for the PS2, letting owners of an older system upgrade to the PlayStation 2 and keep their old software, and giving new users access to older games until a larger library was developed for the new system. As an added bonus, the PS2 had the ability to enhance PlayStation games by speeding up disc read time and/or adding texture smoothing to improve graphics. While the texture smoothing was universally effective (albeit with odd effects where transparent textures are used), faster disk reading could cause some games to fail to load or play correctly.

A handful of PlayStation titles (notably Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions) fail to run on the PS2 at all (Special Missions fails to recognise Metal Gear Solid at the disk swap screen, for example). This problem appears to have been rectified in the slimline versions of the PS2, where most of the previously unplayable PSone games can now be played. It is a common misconception that disk swapping in a game (for example, for multi-disk games or expansion packs) is not possible on the PS2. The anomalous failure of the above title at its disk swap screen may have given birth to this rumor. Software for all PlayStation consoles contains one of four region codes: for Japan and Asia: NTSC/J, North America: NTSC-U/C, Europe and Oceania: PAL, and China: NTSC/C.

Online play

With the purchase of a separate unit called the Network Adaptor (which is built into the newest system revision), some PS2 games support online multiplayer. Instead of having a unified, subscription-based online service like Xbox Live, online multiplayer on the PS2 is split between publishers and run on third-party servers. However, this comes at a price as any connection can connect to the internet with a PS2, resulting in lag whenever slow connections are present. Most recent PS2 online games have been developed to exclusively only support broadband internet access. Xbox Live exclusively requires broadband internet.

All newer online PS2 games (since 2003) are protected by the Dynamic Network Authentication System (DNAS). The purpose of this system is to prevent piracy and online cheating. DNAS will prevent games from being played online if they are determined to be pirated copies, or if they have been modified.

Home development

Sony released a version of the Linux operating system for the PS2 in a package that also includes a keyboard, mouse, Ethernet adapter and hard disk drive. Currently, Sony's online store states that the Linux kit is no longer for sale in North America. However as of July 2005, the European version was still available. (The kit boots by installing a proprietary interface, the Run-time environment which is on a region-coded DVD, so the European and USA kits each only work with a PS2 from that region).

In Europe and Australia, the PlayStation 2 comes with a free Yabasic interpreter on the bundled demo disk. This allows simple programs to be created for the PlayStation 2 by the end-user. This was included in a failed attempt to circumvent a UK tax by defining the console as a "computer" if it contained certain software.

A port of the NetBSD project is also available for the PS2.

It is also possible to listen to MP3 music and watch DivX movies with homebrew programs running in consoles that have a modchip installed or with network software like GameShark's Media Player.

Hardware revisions

The PlayStation 2 has undergone many revisions, some only of internal construction and others with substantial external changes. These are colloquially known amongst PlayStation 2 hardware hackers as V0, V1, V2, etc., up to V14 (as of 2005).

V0 was a Japanese model and was never sold in Europe or the US. These included a PCMCIA slot instead of the Expansion Bay (DEV9) port of newer models. V0 did not have a built-in DVD player and instead relied on an encrypted player that was copied to a memory card from an included CD-ROM (normally, the PS2 will only execute encrypted software from its memory card, but see PS2 Independence Exploit). V3 has a substantially different internal structure from the subsequent revisions, featuring several interconnected printed circuit boards. As of V4 everything was unified into one board, except the power supply. V5 introduces minor internal changes and the only difference between V6 (sometimes called V5.1) and V5 is the orientation of the Power/Reset switch board connector, which was reversed to prevent the use of no-solder modchips. V7 and V8 are also similar. Assembly of the PS2 moved to China with the V9 (model number SCPH-50000/SCPH-50001), which added the Infrared port for the optional DVD Remote Control, removed the widely unused FireWire port, added the capability to read DVD-RW and +RW discs, and a quieter fan. V10 and V11 have minor changes.

In September 2004 Sony unveiled the third major hardware revision (V12, model number SCPH-70000). Available in November 2004, it is smaller and thinner than the old version and includes a built-in Ethernet port. In some markets it also integrates a modem. Due to its thinner profile, it does not contain the 3.5" expansion bay, and therefore does not support the internal hard disk drive but due to the presence of USB 1.1 ports an external USB Hard disk can still be used, and now uses an external power supply, like the Gamecube. Although external USB enclosures are affordable the lack of internal hard disk has implicated a problem for users with perhaps little knowledge of the software required to enable the external disk functionality as well as the fact that USB 1.1 is simply not fast enough for the job. For some consumers this is in fact a limitation, especially for the fans of titles such as Final Fantasy XI, which requires the use of this peripheral, and prevents the use of the official PS2 Linux kit. A product named HD Connect can be soldered into the unit giving hard drive support though, however IDE connections were completely removed in the v14 revision eliminating this option . It is widely believed that Sony has abandoned support for the hard drive. There are also some disputes on the numbering for this PS2 version, since there are actually two sub-versions of the SCPH-70000. One of them includes the old EE and GS chips, and the other contains the newer unified EE+GS chip, otherwise being identical. Since the V12 version had already been established for this model, there were some disputes regarding these sub-versions. Two propositions were to name the old model (EE and GS, separate chips) V11.5 and the newer model V12, and to name the old model V12 and the newer model V13. Currently, most people just use V12 for both models, or V12 for the old model and V13 for the newer one.

The V12 model was first released in black. A silver edition is available in the United Kingdom and Germany exclusively. It is unknown whether or not this will follow the color schemes of the older model.

There is also now a V14 model (SCPH-75001) which contains an integrated EE and GS (disputed — see talk page), and different ASICs compared to previous revisions, some chips having a copyright date of 2005 compared to 2000 or 2001 for earlier models. It also has a different lens and some compatibility issues documented by Sony for earlier PS2 games.

Later hardware revisions had better compatibility with PlayStation games (Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions works on most silver models). However, the new Japanese slim models have more issues with playing PlayStation games than the first PS2 revisions.

Sony has also made a PVR/DVD burning consumer device that plays PlayStation 2 games called the PSX. The device was poorly received, with some major features absent from the first revisions of the hardware, and has thus far experienced very weak sales in Japan, in spite of major price drops. The machine's future continues to be uncertain, with North American and European launches considered to be distant if at all.

In the beginning of 2005 it was found that some black slimline console power transformers brought between November and December 2004 were faulty and could overheat. Sony had to recall every one of them, supplying a replacement model made in 2005.


The PS2's controller is largely identical to the PlayStation's, with the same basic functionality; however, it includes analog pressure sensitivity on the face and shoulder buttons, is lighter and includes two more levels of vibration. The fact that the design didn't change pleased some consumers who were already used to the PS1 controller, however it disappointed others who found the analogue sticks awkward to use and were hoping for a more ergonomic design.

Optional hardware include additional controllers, a DVD remote control, a hard disk, an Ethernet adapter, memory cards, and various cables and interconnects: Multitap, YPbPr, S-Video, RGB SCART and composite video cables, RF modulator, USB camera ("EyeToy"), keyboard, mouse and a Headset. Unlike the original Playstation, which required that the user use an official Sony Playstation mouse to play mouse-compatible games, the few Playstation 2 games with mouse support work with standard PC-compatible USB mice. Early versions of the Playstation 2 could be networked via an iLink port, though this had little game support and was dropped.

Technical Issues

Disc Read Error

Owners of early PS2 models purchased from launch until spring 2002 commonly reported faulty optical drives in their consoles. The earliest drives suffered from a constantly misaligning laser lens but later defects were the result of a shift in voltage to the laser itself. The first problem was relatively easy to remedy, but it required opening the machine's casing and tweaking a cog that controlled the lens' distance from the discs it was supposed to read, thus voiding the warranty. This usually didn't matter, as the warranty had already expired by the time such problems began to appear. The second fix involved the use of an oscillator. As time went on, more and more drives began breaking down and a class action lawsuit was filed against Sony. They had the option of either paying the requested fines in damages, or offering free repair and replacements at their discretion. Sony chose the latter and, until February 2005, they honored their agreement. In the UK owners suffering from this flaw must pay Sony £50 (as of spring 2005) to get their machines repaired.

A second lawsuit is being filed against Sony for all of the above, plus claims that defective hardware is damaging media discs. The first hearings are set to commence in April and May, 2006.


The PlayStation 2, like the original PlayStation, incorporates circuitry to prevent the playing of copied or out-of-region discs. In response to this, a thriving "underground" grey market exists, selling modchips. These devices, when installed, bypass the checks and allow the discs to run.

The installation of modchips in PlayStation 2 consoles is widely discouraged by Sony and many user groups and technicians. The obvious reason is piracy, but the chips also have several other drawbacks as well: many of these chips work on a different voltage than the console, risking damage to the unit.

Because of the existence of these hazards, Sony has overlaid a seal onto each of their consoles. If this seal is broken (thus providing evidence that the console has been opened and possibly modified), Sony will refuse to repair the system.

As an alternative to Modchips for the Playstation 2, users can also use a the Swap Magic disc in order to play their import or personal backup games. The main advantage of the Swap Magic over the modchips is that it does not require an soldering or any opening of your Playstation 2 console. Many import game players have started using the Swap Magic as an alternative to modchips.

However, in Australia, the court has ruled that using a modchip to play legally purchased games from other regions is legal, thus making the modchip legal in Australia. Conversely, a court in the United Kingdom ruled in 2004 that commercial possession, sale, installation or use of a modchip was illegal under the EU Copyright Directive.

Technical specifications

The specifications of the PlayStation 2 console are as follows, with hardware revisions:

Price history

North America


Republic of China (Taiwan)