Sony announces beginning of the end for PlayStation 2 console

Be sure to give your little PlayStation 2, collecting dust in a corner of your entertainment centre, a gentle hug today. According to a new report from Famitsu highlighted by Ars Technica, Sony has officially stopped shipping its aged console to retailers in Japan.

Once these legacy gaming consoles are sold out, that's it. No more. Sony has, for all intents and purposes, ceased producing the PlayStation 2 in Japan. While this don't officially mark the death of the PlayStation 2 in the rest of the world, it's safe to say that the final days of the PlayStation 2 are now that little bit closer than they were previously.

What remains unclear is whether Sony will officially axe its 12-year-old console before it announces its rumored PlayStation 4, or whether the company will keep production going until its next console hits store shelves.

To keep Sony's in-between console in perspective, the company plans to support the PlayStation 3 for a full 10-year lifecycle – at least through 2015.

"We're going to continue supporting it (the PS3) not only that long, but as long as there is a development spigot that's running hot. And I can tell you right now, the development spigot for PS3 is very hot. A lot of great games coming. Same thing with PS2...it's kind of stuck around as that old warrior, many years after its launch. But there's still games launching for it," said John Koller, Sony's director of hardware marketing, in a September interview with Gamespot.

Sony announced in February 2011 that the PlayStation 2 had officially reached 150 million worldwide shipments the month prior, giving it top honors as the world's best-selling home gaming console. Additionally, the company said that more than 1.52 billion games had been sold since the console's official Japan launch in March 2000.

In total, the PlayStation 2 only saw two hardware iterations – the original "fat" console and a refined "slimline" console that began shipping in late 2004. Current rumors suggest that the Sony's PlayStation 4 could be released around the holiday season of 2013, while other speculation points to a 2014 launch for the next-gen hardware.