Sony has announced it will no longer repair PlayStation 2 consoles .
That is the end of another era, I can't believe the PS2 is nearing its 20th anniversary. Its actually older now than the original Famicom was when the PS2 came out!
I wonder what future the PS2 has though, as the "retro" console that I think it can now clearly claim to be. This curiosity is spurred not just by the announcement that Sony will stop repairing them (how many people are still sending them in for repairs anyway?) but rather by concerns about the survivability of the console itself.
The Famicom is now 35 years old and even the oldest units generally still work or can be repaired without too much hassle by someone with limited technical skills. The pain-in-the-ass factor associated with owning and maintaining a Famicom is extremely low, which makes the hobby very accessible to a lot of casual gamers who just want to play games on original hardware but don't want to invest too much of their time in learning how to carry out complex repairs. Its a pretty simple machine without any moving parts to wear out (in contrast to the FDS for example) so its just a remarkably long lasting system that you can buy with confidence and just enjoy.
I can't say the same about PS2s though. I've owned two of them over the years and both of them ultimately kicked the bucket after just a few years of use in a way that made repairing them uneconomical. I'm no expert on the internal workings of the PS2 but do know that they are a lot less simple on the inside than a Famicom. When a Famicom stops working I just crack it open and, despite having very limited technical knowledge or tools, can usually get it working again (half the time it seems just dusting off the motherboard does the trick). A PS2 repair on the other hand isn't something I can handle, and I am guessing that most people who own one are in the same category.
This explains why I never bought a replacement for my last PS2 after it broke about 6-7 years ago. When I look at PS2 consoles on Yahoo Auctions I just don't feel confident that the thing that I would be buying would last very long, a feeling that I have never felt when buying a Famicom (or Super Famicom, N64, Mega Drive or basically any other cart based system). So I have a huge pile of PS2 disks lying around in a box somewhere that I have sort of written off ever trying to play again (even though I like some of them quite a bit).
This leads me to ask what kind of market there is going to be for PS2 consoles in the future now that even Sony itself won't repair them. There are 150 million of them out there, or at least there were that many sold, but the number of them actually left working is likely to succumb to higher and higher attrition rates as the years go by and more break down in ways that are not cost effective to repair for the average gamer. By the time it reaches the Famicom's current age (in 2035) I can't imagine there being more than a tiny fraction of those 150 million still left out there.
This is a concern entirely separate from the fact that the discs the games are on themselves seem to have a very finite life expectancy. which kind of acts as a double whammy. Carts are also prone to wearing out over time since they have connectors that get worn down over time, but theoretically a cart that is well taken care of and not constantly inserted/removed can last for a very long time since there is no cart equivalent to "disc rot".
Any PS2 collectors out there have worries or thoughts about this?