Shades Of PS2 In The PS4? Not Really
I'm hearing more and more comparisons between the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 2; i.e., "Yay, Sony is returning to their glory days!"
I have several problems with that sentiment. The first is the obvious: It's somewhat inaccurate. The PS3 didn't exactly burst out of the gates, but it still sold the same number of consoles as the Xbox 360, and in one year less time. It'll probably end up moving over 100 million units and that's nothing to sneeze at. I'd hardly call it a catastrophic fall from grace, which is what some gamers have made it out to be. That was blown way out of proportion.
The other problem is that while the PS4 is doing well - and trust me, I love that it's off and running; 4.2 million in only about 6 weeks, and it hasn't even launched in Japan yet! - it's no PS2. Maybe people have forgotten, or maybe some were just too young to recall accurately. The PS2 was the perfect storm; the industry has changed so much since that we'll never see the like again. The PS4 will probably be in a neck-and-neck race with the Xbox One in the US for most of the new generation, even though Sony's machine should easily win the global sales count. That's not even close to what the PS2 did; what the PS2 did will never be equaled. No system will ever remotely approach it, and there are dozens of reasons why.
It's not just that the PS2 is the best-selling video game console of all time with, what, 160 million units worldwide now, or something like that? It's that for an entire generation of gaming, there was really only one console that mattered. There was only one console that was in most every gamer's home. The PS2 didn't just outsell the Xbox and the GameCube; it outsold the combined sales of those two systems several times over. How did it happen? Well, after the original PlayStation hit so hard, the world was anxiously anticipating the PS2. It was the first time, at least in my memory, that a new game console was promoted so avidly and so well. By the time that thing came out, people were expecting it to make them a sandwich and fly them to Mars. Unparalleled hype, I tell you.
The Xbox and GameCube came a year late to the party and by that time, the PS2 already owned the world. The Sega Dreamcast got off to a decent start, but the PS2 steamrolled it in a matter of months. I know many Sega fans who hated to see that, but it happened surprisingly quickly. I don't mean the DC was discontinued in a matter of months, but the handwriting was on the wall fast. Furthermore, I will always maintain that the insane PS2 hype alone doomed the Dreamcast from the outset. I was working at an EB when the DC launched back in September of 1999, and all anyone could talk about was the upcoming PS2. Can you imagine that? A new console launches and everyone is waiting on another one that's a year away?
No, the PS4 is no PS2. That's not an insult to the new console; no system will ever be the PS2. Things have changed too much now, anyway. Thanks to the perfect storm, the PS2 will go down in history as having no rival in the console world, and that's just fine with me.
1/10/2014 Ben Dutka