Only a few million people had obtained consoles by the end of 2000 due to manufacturing delays. Directly after its release, it was difficult to find PS2 units on retailer shelves. Another option was purchasing the console online through auction websites such as eBay, where people paid over one thousand dollars for a PS2. The PS2 initially sold well partly on the basis of the strength of the PlayStation brand and the console's backward compatibility, selling over 980,000 units by March 5, 2000, one day after launch, in Japan. This allowed the PS2 to tap the large install base established by the PlayStation — another major selling point over the competition. Later, Sony added new development kits for game developers and more PS2 units for consumers.
A notable piece of advertising for the PS2 launch was accompanied by the popular "PS9" television commercial. 9 was to be the epitome of development, toward which the PS2 was the next step. The ad also presaged the development of the PlayStation Portable (first released in Japan on December 12, 2004).
Many analysts predicted a close three-way matchup between the PS2 and competitors Microsoft's Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube (GameCube being the cheapest of the three consoles and had an open market of games); however, the release of several blockbuster games during the 2001 holiday season maintained sales momentum and held off the PS2's rivals.
Although Sony, unlike Sega with its Dreamcast, placed little emphasis on online gaming during its first years, that changed upon the launch of the online-capable Xbox. Sony adapted in late 2002 to compete with Microsoft, with several online first–party titles released alongside it, such as SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs to demonstrate its active support for Internet play. Sony also advertised heavily, and its online model had the support of Electronic Arts. Although Sony and Nintendo both started out late, and although both followed a decentralize...