Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sony PS2s can no longer be repaired by Sony: Meanwhile millions of Famicoms continue to hum along

I just read that 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?

17 comments:

  1. I've been through about four PS2s myself. Amazing console, but at times it feels like if you so much as stare at it funny it'll go kaput... at least as far as my luck has been concerned. My current one is all running smoothly though, which is good, as I use it as my DVD player.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, four already? I agree though, it is an amazing console and I love some of the games on it but I just can't trust the hardware!

      Delete
  2. I still have my original PS2 *knocks on wood*

    It even fell off of the table a few weeks after I got it with the CD drawer open, which caused it to stick open. I couldn't fix it and at the time was really upset, because it cost so much, but my little sister managed to get the drawer closed. To this day it still makes a funny noise when it opens, but it works.

    I feel like writing all this has increased the chances of my PS2 failing exponentially.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, how long have you had it? I bought my first one in 2001 and it lasted long enough for me to be satisfied that I got my money's worth. But the replacement I bought in 2009 only lasted a couple of years of moderate use.

      Anyway, good luck to your PS2, I am pulling for it to last a long time more!

      Delete
  3. Crazy, I thought Sony would have stopped that a long time ago. I never owned a PS2, but it sounds like working ones are going to be in high demand in the next few decades.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually that was my reaction too, I had no idea they were still servicing them.

      I wonder if working models will have much demand though, even as they become rarer, since the unreliability issue will be a kind of dark mark against them (and the threat of CD rot destroying the billions of games out there will likely be an issue).

      Delete
  4. I've gone through only one PS2. Currently own three. I've had good luck with the model scph-50001 (two of the three I own are this model) However I had worse luck with PS1s. Currently on my fourth but its still going strong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I had a PS1 go south on me pretty quickly and never went back to that one after getting the PS2!

      Delete
  5. Hey,

    I was hoping you might be able to help out with something Famicom related, as you mentioned having used Yahoo Japan Auctions and even shopping in Japan directly. I tweeted you about this too, btw. Is there any way I can reach you more directly, like email or PM on a gaming forum?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am registered as "senseiman" on Famicom World and can take PMs there.

      Delete
  6. Your post hits the nail on the head with the future of game collecting - just how much chance does it have to latch on like 8bit Nintendo has in the past 10 years. When the ease of use drops down considerably, will people bother? The PS2 is even hardier than the PS3 and Xbox 360 - 20 years from now, good luck trying to find either of those systems used and operational. It's not a good sign and I think the bottom will fall out of a lot of the disc based systems and collecting for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it really is the ease of use factor that is key. There will probably be a small class of hardcore collectors willing to do the work to keep those disc based systems alive, but it won't be like it is for NES/Famicom etc now which is just so easy to enter that it has a much broader appeal.

      Delete
  7. I got a Dreamcast at a flea market for ¥200, with a controller, memory card (which is like a mini-console in itself), what I think is a "rumble pak" (or whatever Sega called theirs) and the necessary cables. It actually boots (a miracle in itself) but doesn't play any games.
    I found a forum full of Brits talking about how they repaired their ones, but none of the fixes I tried work. They first talk about just taking the case off and putting it back on (apparently the microswitch that tells the console the lid is closed can get out of place), cleaning the diode, then up to increasing the power on the diode (mine does glow a bit, but I don't know if it's meant to be as dim as it is. Obviously I didn't look directly at it!) or even soldering in a new diode.
    Unfortunately the Dreamcast uses "GD's" instead of DVD's, and is probably the only retail machine to have ever used them, so you can't just cannibalise a junk DVD player like I presume you can for PS2's, so I still have a ¥200 paperweight right now, but I might have another poke about in it (there's also a possibility the games I have are duds. The Sonic Adventure is covered in scratches, but I don't wanna risk chucking good money after bad).
    Also those Brits were talking about European Dreamcasts, the internals of my Japanese one are a bit different, but I imagine it works the same way.
    I DO have an early Playstation that still works, the right way up, too! I have heard that the "fat" ones only work upside down after a certain point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Junk or not, I do love stories about 200 Yen console finds :)

      That does sound like the kind of story that has made me avoid ever getting a Saturn or Dreamcast. I LOVE Sega consoles and have almost all of the Japanese cart based ones (Mega Drive, Mark III, SG-1000) but just the fear of maintenance issues I would not be able to handle have made me avoid their disc based systems (all my cart based ones work like a charm and I have never had issues with them even though except for the Mark III they all came from junk bins too).

      Delete
    2. Saturn is a pretty reliable system, I've got 2 of them, an european that I've got since 15 years, never got any issue with it and a japanese one that I've got since 5 years (from Yahoo Japan Auction for something like 30$) and not the slightiest problem with this one too.

      It would be to pass on this one, even though collecting for this system is pretty expensive this days...

      Delete
  8. I've never had any issues with my one and only PS2, but I've heard they can be a pain to maintain and repair. It's really the reason I prefer cartridge-based consoles like NES and Famicom, as disc-based systems like the PS2 can go nuts and will eventually refuse to work. I've gone through a Dreamcast and two Xbox 360s because they couldn't read discs or even turn on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that is cool that yours has lasted so well. I've heard bad things about Xbox reliability too, wonder which is worse!

      Delete