According to British trade paper MCV, latest calculations by Sony suggest that the European user base for the PlayStation 2 could overtake that of the U.S. later this year.
The U.S. installed user base for the PlayStation was 30.5 million units at the end of January, while total PAL sales (presumably including non-European PAL territories such as Australasia) were 28.8 million at the same time. Sony’s own calculations suggest that PAL sales could overtake the U.S. before Christmas this year.
Total global sales for the PlayStation 2 are now put at 85 million (compared to around 20 million for the Xbox and approximately 18 million for the GameCube). Global sales for the original PlayStation are put at around 100 million, suggesting that the PlayStation 2 will easily eclipse it before the end of its lifetime.
Although the overall European video games market has long been at parity with the U.S., the complications resulting from language and cultural differences in each of the many different countries has meant that companies have always found it less profitable than either North America or Japan.
Both publishers and console manufacturers have steadily been increasing their efforts over the last few years though, with Microsoft rumored to be planning a simultaneous U.S. and European launch for the next generation Xbox console, and Japanese publishers in particular specifically courting European customers with localized content.