March 31st, 2016 marked the end of an era of gaming. Final Fantasy XI, the first MMORPG in the nearly 3 decades old Final Fantasy series had its console servers for the Playstation 2 and the Xbox 360 shut down on that day. For the 360, it was just one of many games on the console to, after a long enough time, have its servers shut down, but for the Playstation 2, this was the last game on the console to still have online support.
This, basically, marked the true death of the console, a console that many people regard as one of the best in the history of gaming. Final Fantasy XI was the last game with online support on the Playstation 2, and with the closure of it’s servers, and the end of sales of the Playstation 2 around 2012, means that it is as dead a system, from a primary support and service point of view, as any of the classic consoles we know and love.
This is, for me, an oddly sad event. While my Playstation 2 does have a network adapter (and a hard disk from a friends re-purchase of Final Fantasy XI) I never did play any games online. By the time I even thought about doing such in later years, just about everything I would have wanted to play was shut down, as by the 2010’s everyone was well into gaming on the already half-decade old PS3 and 360’s consoles. I did play a bit online at a friends, and I enjoyed what I could of it, but overall the PS2 was still a sit at home, with friends, and play a game type of system.
Hell, the Playstation 2 got me through one of the roughest times in my life in the mid 2000’s. Gaming has always been a way to relax and enjoy myself, and I would of course consider it my primary hobby. With things going crazy all those years ago, at least I had it and a nice stash of wonderful games to enjoy.
That’s the funny thing, too, in that, save for a very few games, mostly everything for the Playstation 2 can be enjoyed without the need for an online connection, as relatively few games for the Playstation 2 were even online enabled. So, if you picked up a system and some games today, you would have the same experience as you would have a decade ago. It’s not like now, with the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 where you might need mandatory patches just to play a game offline. No, it was, even then, a much simpler time for gaming.
The amazing thing, though, and why this is news, is that it took 16 years, from the release of the PS2 in Japan, until March 31st of 206, for the console to finally become fully unsupported. That is an incredible lifespan, and by comparison, the original Xbox was supported from November 15th, 2001, it’s original US launch, until Xbox Live service was cut for the original system and games on April 15th, 2010. At that same time, the PS2 still had quite a few games playable online, and could even still be purchased new. That is simply an incredible lifespan, and a testament to just how loved the Playstation 2 was in its prime.
Indeed, it still is loved by many gamers. It’s the last home console by Sony that caught my interest, and while I also enjoyed the Playstation Portable (PSP) The PS2 was really where my alliance with Sony ended, before I became more of a PC gamer in the 2000’s and eventually moved to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One for my home console play.
I don’t play my Playstation 2 nearly as much as I used to, though, but the console still works very well. I’m hoping to, over time collect a few more units as backups. I have more than enough memory cards, and while my main system does have that 40 gigabyte hard disk installed, I might remove that soon to save it from eventual failure. It has all my game saves backed up to it, but I have those also backed up on several rather new memory cards, so, I think I run minimal risk of save loss.
It’s funny, too, that the console still feels new to me. While I have grown used to that strange appearance it has, the boot sound and the general feel of it takes me back to high school, when I wished I could have gotten one, and then to that Christmas of 2003 where I finally did get one, the very same one that, 12 years later, is sitting just a few feet away at my gaming setup, ready and waiting for me to throw in a game and have some fun.
As for Final Fantasy XI, I never really liked it. That’s another article for another time. Let’s just say my experience of seeing friends play it was enough to make me lose any interest I ever had in an online Final Fantasy.
Whatever case, thank you Sony for making an amazing game console, and I hope every Playstation 2 owner out there will find some time to fire up some of your favourite games, for old times sake.