Singstar was one of the most important series ever released on a Sony console. And in January 2020, after 15 years of PlayStation karaoke, it’s finally going to be shuffled off the stage.
The first SingStar game was released on the PS2 in 2004, and it’s on the PlayStation 2 that the series really left its mark. Years before the Wii’s release, the SingStar series helped drive (along with other series like Buzz) an unprecedented growth in “mainstream” console adoption in PAL regions, as demographics that previously had no interest in playing Grand Theft Auto or Final Fantasy rushed to pick up a PS2 so they could play party games with their friends.
SingStar was so popular Sony began bundling the game with slim PlayStation 2s, and from its first appearance in 2004 there would go on to be over 20 SingStar games released, some based on genres, others on certain bands, others on entire decades of music. It has, in Europe and Australia alone, sold more than 16 million copies.
The maths is simple. The PS2 is the biggest-selling home console of all time, and it sold more consoles in Europe than anywhere else. And SingStar played a big part in driving sales of the PS2, especially to people who had never bought another before, and may never have bought another one since. So while Americans (where the series has sold only 1.5 million copies) may wonder what all the fuss about, in PAL regions there will be a lot of people mourning the imminent demise of SingStar, even if they haven’t touched it in a decade.
SingStar’s peak was definitely on the PS2, when every game shipped as a disc with a curated list of tracks; as the PS3 came around other similar titles like Guitar Hero and Rock Band had stolen its thunder, and by the time the game stopped shipping with its hefty custom microphone controllers during the PS3 era, instead switching to smartphone support with downloadable tracks, its influence as a wider cultural force had all but vanished.
I worked at EB Games/GameStop when this was released, and at Christmas time it absolutely flew off the shelf.
SingStar has stuck around though, if only for longtime fans who were still downloading new/old songs for their collection, and as recently as 2017 Sony released SingStar Celebration, which will go down as the last game in the series ever released.
The official end for SingStar will come in January 2020, when Sony ceases all online support for the game. Users will no longer be able to download new songs or play online. Indeed, PS3 owners won’t even be able to download old songs they’ve already paid for.
Sure, anyone with an old PS2 and a working set of mics will be able to play the game, just as Disney Infinity isn’t dead for anyone who already has it, but it’s the intent that’s key here. This is Sony closing the book on SingStar, and with it a storied – if underappreciated on a global scale – success.