After over a decade on sale, Sony is ending production of PlayStation 3 units soon–in Japan at least.
The console’s entry on PlayStation’s official Japanese website (translated by Gematsu) has been updated to read, “Shipments are scheduled to end soon.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean global production will cease any time soon, however. While Japanese and western consumers are typically quick to adopt new technology (and therefore sales would be expected to dry up sooner than in other markets), other territories are slower to receive new hardware–hence products often see longer tails. For example, while the PS3 came to Japan and North America in November 2006, it didn’t launch in Brazil until 2010, so production could be expected to continue for some time there.
Much of the PS3’s early life was marred by a high retail price and reports that it was difficult to develop for, but the console enjoyed a resurgence of sorts later on thanks to high-quality exclusive titles like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Journey, LittleBigPlanet, and The Last of Us.
Sony also released revised versions of the console: the Slim model launched in 2009 before a Super Slim edition followed in 2012. The device was replaced by the PlayStation 4 in 2013.
Over the course of its lifetime, the PS3 shifted somewhere in the region of 84 million units, which puts it approximately level with its main competitor, the Xbox 360. Both Sony and Microsoft have now stopped divulging sales figures for their legacy consoles, so exact numbers are unknown. Whichever is ahead, they are likely the fourth- and fifth-best-selling consoles of all time, behind the PlayStation 2, original PlayStation, and the Wii.
PS3’s predecessor, the PlayStation 2, ended production in 2013 after 12 years on the market. That console was more successful than the PS3, and eventually became the most successful console of all time in terms of quantity sold, with over 150 million units shifted worldwide.
It remains to be seen when the PS3 will cease production in the west.