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Happy birthday, Playstation 2: much-loved console turns 10 today

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PS2: double figures

The gaming news might be full of fancy motion controllers and the year's big new releases -- but today it's an old friend of gamers that's making headlines. The venerable PlayStation 2 marks its tenth birthday today.

It wasn't exactly an easy birth, however. When it was released on October 26, 2000, the instant and immense popularity of the high-tech new toy pushed consumer demand to impressive heights, just as a component shortage forced Sony to slash its U.S. shipments in half. Ebay price gougers were selling Playstation 2s at well over the thousand-dollar mark, and it was months before shoppers could expect to find them on store shelves.

But once gamers started picking them up, they never really stopped. It remains the world's best-selling console, although the Wii is set to beat it out any day now.

Analyst Jesse Divnich weighed in on the importance of the platform.

"The PlayStation 2 was the first true home entertainment platform, enabling consumers to consolidate their entertainment desires into one console," he said in a press release.  "Since 2000, the video game industry has expanded in size and demographic diversity as the trend towards consolidating entertainment options within a single platform continues, a vision that was originally initiated by the PlayStation 2 over 10 years ago."

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GTA: San Andreas: best-seller

Some of the PlayStation 2's impressive numbers:

-- According to the Guinness Book of Records, the top selling PlayStation 2 game of all time is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, at over 17 million copies.

--Not only is the Playstation 2 still on sale after ten years, it's about to be re-released in a new, limited-edition bundle, together with top-rated new release Toy Story 3, for $99.

--Even at that price, it's going to have its work cut out making much of an impression at retail: one in three U.S. households already have a PlayStation 2.

--Over 2,000 PlayStation 2 games have been released, and between them they've sold over half a billion copies.

--Shortages again plagued the system in late 2004, when a Russian oil tanker became stuck in the Suez Canal, holding up holiday shipments of thousands of machines.

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