Global PlayStation 2 shipments hit 60 million

Total shipments worldwide of Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 2 console hit 60 million last weekend.

The mark was reached on Saturday, September 6, and came almost exactly 3 years and 6 months after the console first hit the streets of Japan at midnight on March 4, 2000. The PlayStation 2 console reached that mark around 1 year and 1 month quicker than its predecessor, the PlayStation.

While total shipments continue to rise, the pace at which units are leaving the company's factories is falling. It took four months for total shipments to rise from 40 million to 50 million but it took almost twice as long to ship the next 10 million units. Earlier this year SCEI's parent, Sony, said it expects annual shipments in fiscal year 2003 to be 20 million units, against 22.5 million units last year.

This reduction in demand is forcing SCEI to come up with innovations on the basic console to push sales. Earlier this year the company gave the PlayStation 2 its first major overhaul since it went on sale and added read-support for DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R and DVD+RW recordable and rewritable optical discs and progressive scan video output. The console was also made quieter and a power button was added to the remote control, making a trip from the couch to switch off the unit an option.

There have also been peripherals such as a hard disk drive and broadband adapter, which together with the updated console are all intended to keep the PlayStation 2 looking fresh until the company's PlayStation 3 is ready. At present it appears that the new console won't hit the market until at least 2004 - a three-year investment plan for semi-conductor lines that will manufacture its central processor was only formalised in April this year.

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Martyn Williams

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