PlayStation is arguably the most consistent brand in video gaming history. It has dominated the market since its entry, and it’s earned this domination thanks to a savvy understanding of what the audience in this market wants, a proactive attitude towards securing its dominant position even at the expense of short term profits, and, most importantly, tons of bangers and great games for all its systems.
But when you spend 30 years doing anything, you’ll have some bad days and some good days, and Sony has, of course, had its share of relative disappointments and underwhelming outings to go along with its really strong ones. Here we take a look at everything it has done, and rank all of its platforms from worst to best, across consoles, handhelds, and VR.
#9. PLAYSTATION VR2
Sony’s newest hardware release has reportedly not had the kind of launch the company may have been hoping for, so it remains to be seen how it will fare in the months and years ahead. In the here and now, it’s easy to see the promise. The PS VR2 boasts excellent hardware, boasting impressive tech and some much-needed improvements over its predecessor. But though it’s still early days, its library isn’t exactly stacked full of games that justify its shockingly high price. Hopefully, Sony and others in the industry will have some really good games up their sleeves in the not-too-distant future. We wouldn’t mind a Half-Life: Alyx port.
#8. PLAYSTATION VR
Sony deserves a great deal of credit for being willing to experiment with something as niche and new as VR back in the day. Building on the incredible success of the PS4, the company decided to dip its toes in virtual reality with PS VR, and with the likes of Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Resident Evil 7, Blood and Truth, and more, the device did deliver some really good games. Of course, it also had its fair share of issues. The hardware, for instance, was quite finnicky and didn’t exactly have the best user experience. It was a decent start for Sony in the world of VR, and it does boast a solid library, but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire.
#7. PLAYSTATION VITA
Thinking about the PlayStation Vita just makes us sad. There was so much to love about Sony’s doomed handheld. It’s hardware was excellent, it had a gorgeous OLED screen (or at least the original model did), and it seemed like the perfect way to properly realize the promise of console games on the go that Sony originally made with the PSP. It was, however, a victim of a string of bad decisions by Sony, from the ridiculous pricing of its proprietary memory cards to how poorly Sony supported the device. It’s a real shame that the PS Vita bombed as horribly as it did, because if Sony had had its heart set on it, it could have done some excellent things in the handheld space. Speaking of which…
#6. PLAYSTATION PORTABLE
The PlayStation Portable launched at a time when Nintendo had an actual, literal monopoly in the handheld gaming market, before even mobile gaming was really a thing. Much like the original PlayStation, the PSP faced insurmountable odds as it sought to overturn that monopoly, and though it didn’t quite do that the way the PS1 did, it did make a significant chunk. With its slick form factor, more powerful hardware, and games that looked better than anyone had ever imagined they would on a handheld, the PSP raised the bar in ways that it doesn’t get enough credit for. It helped, of course, that it had an excellent library, which also doesn’t get the praise it deserves. God of War: Chains of Olympus, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Daxter, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – the list goes on and on.
#5. PLAYSTATION 5
It’s very, very likely that about four or five years from now, the PlayStation 5 will be higher on this list. The fact that it’s less than three years old and is already this high is, however, testament to the incredible start it has had. Console shortages in its first couple of years aside, the PS5 has been firing on all cylinders since day one. Incredible specs, one of the best console controllers of all time, excellent user experience and features- it ticks all the boxes. Including, of course, an impressive library. With the likes of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Returnal, God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and more, the PS5 has already built up a solid catalogue of excellent exclusives, and there’s obviously plenty more to come. Of course, with it still being in the early years of its life, the PS5 still has some catching up to do with all of its predecessors, but so far, it doesn’t look like it’ll fall short of expectations.
#4. PLAYSTATION 3
By the time all was said and done, the PS3 sold over 87 million units worldwide and accumulated a stellar library of games, so it’s not exactly a failure. But is it a bit of a black sheep in the PlayStation console family? I think even Sony would tell you that. How complicated its hardware was to develop for for a number of developers across the industry, the fierce competition it faced from the Xbox 360, the ridiculous price it launched for- there were plenty of reasons for why the PS3 is the only PlayStation console to sell under a hundred million units. At the same time though, it’s also got an amazing library. Sure, the PS3 era had plenty of issues, but it also delivered games like Metal Gear Solid 4, the Uncharted 2, God of War 3, Killzone 2 and 3, and so, so much more. So at the end of the day, the good definitely outweighed the bad.
Going up against the established dominance of Nintendo and Sega (but largely the former) as a newcomer wasn’t an easy task in the slightest, but with the PlayStation, Sony certainly made it look easy. It was less powerful than the N64, sure, but it was also cheaper and easier to develop for. That meant developers flocked to it in droves and crammed its library full of smash hits, and that, in turn, drove sales at a scale that the industry had never seen before, culminating with the PS1 becoming the first console ever to sell more than 100 million units. Not only is it one of the greatest consoles of all time, it’s also one of the most influential consoles of all time.
#2. PLAYSTATION 2
Many would argue that the PS2 should be at the top of this list – and possibly every list – and even though we obviously haven’t put it in that position, we very easily could have. More so perhaps than any of its competitors, predecessors, or successors, the PS2 signifies what a gaming console is above all else, and that is thanks first and foremost to its library of games, which might just be one of the greatest gaming lineups of all time. It’s the highest selling console of all time and remains the only console to date to have sold over 150 million units, but as staggering as that achievement it is, it’s hard to say that it isn’t justified by every metric.
#1. PLAYSTATION 4
After a bit of a stumble with the PS3 (albeit a stumble with caveats of success), Sony decided to pivot with the PS4 in more ways than one, from its reasonable launch pricing to its quick and easy user experience to its developer-friendly hardware, and all of those decisions paid dividends for Sony. What really elevated the PS4 as a console, however, was the sudden and aggressive improvements that we saw from PlayStation’s first party offerings. Don’t get us wrong, Sony’s first party has always been one of its strong suits, but in the PS4 era, it hit completely new heights. Bloodborne, which was technically a first party release, kicked it off in 2015, and then it was just a steady stream of stellar, must-play releases. Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima. With first parties and third parties both firing on all cylinders, the PS4 accumulated an incredible library of games over the course of its life, and of course, is still continuing to see consistent releases in the early years of its successor’s life. For our money, it would be silly not to recognize it as one of the greatest gaming consoles of all time.