By McKinley Noble | 01-01-2013 | 9:30PM

Since March 2000, the Sony PlayStation 2 has been a dominant titan in the gaming industry, enjoying massive international success due to its cutting-edge technology and enormous library of video games.

Now, the era of the PS2 is coming to an end, as Sony has announced that the console will be officially discontinued in Japan.

What that means for other PlayStation production facilities worldwide is uncertain, but since most of Sony's major decision-making comes down from their corporate headquarters in Japan, you can expect to see PS2 consoles slowly start to disappear from store shelves in various regions around the globe.

With over 153 million units sold since its debut, the success of the PlayStation 2 is likely something that will never be touched by another traditional home gaming system.

After all, just comparing its global sales with the current console generation shows the true size of that gap:

  • PlayStation 2 — 153 million sold
  • PlayStation 3 — 71 million sold
  • Microsoft Xbox 360 — 73 million sold
  • Nintendo Wii — 98 million sold

Moreover, the PS2 was fortunate to host several mega-hit exclusives, including classic titles like Metal Gear Solid 2Final Fantasy XGrand Turismo 3: A-SpecGod of War and Kingdom Hearts.

But most of all, early sales of the PS2 were outright record-breaking due to its full backwards compatibility with the similarly successful original PlayStation console.

After so many years on the top, it'll be interesting to see how the value of the PlayStation 2 holds up over time. Future PlayStation systems won't host backwards compatibility for older console software, which could make various video game collections increasingly valuable within the next few decades or so.