In the early days of the PlayStation 2, Zipper Interactive would debut a third-person shooter called SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs. Authentic, tactical, team-based, and online at a time where few other PlayStation titles were, SOCOM took the home console by storm. It gave Sony’s exclusives a more mature face, provided multiplayer-centric shooters a new standard to compete against, and helped single-handedly move the PlayStation 2’s network adapter and headset into gamers’ homes. The debut of SOCOM 2 the following year created an immediate classic, and confirmed SOCOM as a franchise that would be with PlayStation for years to come – even as unsavoury hackers attempted to ruin players’ enjoyment.
Yet try as SOCOM would, lightning never seemed to strike thrice in the eyes of the series faithful. SOCOM 3, Combined Assault, Confrontation, and many more would all proceed to be good, if not great games in their own right – but whether helmed by Zipper or Slant Six, SOCOM never found its third pillar on which it could rest. And just as it seemed as if the series finally might, SOCOM 4 would both trip over its design, and fall into a hole burrowed out of the PlayStation Network Outage of 2011.
SOCOM was shattered, Zipper was shuttered, and one by one, the entire series would go offline – though the hardcore would continue to find ways to keep the series’ flame alive.
This is the rise and fall of SOCOM.