“We encourage third parties to continue development for the PS2. If they bring a PS3 version out, they can bring a PS2 version out as well,” Reeves said. He also suggested Sony may have mishandled the transition from the original PlayStation to the PlayStation 2 platform, saying, “There is a lot of money still. What happened last time with PS1 is that they left a lot of money on the table by making the transition too quickly.”
His statement that the PlayStation 2 would remain a viable system for development was met with doubt by some industry figures, who suggested a a more conservation two to three years of useful life as the console market migrates to next-generation systems. “There will be a bit of a shift in terms of consumers we will reach, in terms of the regions,” said Gerhard Florin of Electronic Arts. “Machines in the market may be handed on – not to the younger brother, but maybe to the older sister to play a party game.”
Tighter margins on older systems can also make the prospect of developing for the PlayStation 2 exclusively less attractive. Ubisoft President Yves Guillemot said that lower prices on PlayStation 2 titles means publishers must sell greater numbers to generate revenues comparable to those of next-gen systems. Referring to sales levels of Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six: Vegas title for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, he said, “Doing 1.1 million (units) on the PS2 in the U.S. today is not easy, and for the same revenue you have to do 1.6 million at $40.”
Reeves, however, said the large number of programmers with PlayStation 2 experience both simplifies the development process and makes it easier for large publishers to subcontract the work. “You can set up your external company now, and in the next five years you can be a billionaire just developing for PS2.”
Released in 2000, the PlayStation 2 remains the most widely-installed game console on the market. Despite its age, it also continues to sell well in comparison to newer systems; according to the latest NPD figures, the PlayStation 2 handily outsold both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles in the month of July.