For this blog I'm going to be looking at the first year of all 4 PlayStation home consoles after they were launched in the USA, comparing their launch titles as well as their first year games. If I missed any USA first year titles, please let me know in the comments below. I'm trying to be as comprehensive as possible.
I'm writing this blog mostly to remind myself why I have stuck with Sony for so many generations, the battles they've won and lost and why the PlayStation name carries so much weight. I've largely been disappointed by Sony this year and by the gaming industry as a whole. You can read my previous blog on the disappointments of 2014 here:
So lets get started...
PlayStation 1 - Launched September 9, 1995
Ridge Racer Rayman The Raiden Project Battle Arena Toshinden ESPN Extreme Games Air Combat NBA Jam Tournament Edition Total Eclipse Turbo Kileak the DNA Imperative Street Fighter the Movie Power Serve 3D Tennis
The launch titles of the PS1 were rather lackluster. We have to remember that around this time, Nintendo and Sega were waging a brutal console war and Nintendo was on the cusp of victory with such great 1995 releases like Killer Instinct, Mega Man X2, Metal Warriors, Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, Earthbound, Wild Guns, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, DKC2: Diddy's Kong Quest and the timeless classic Chrono Trigger. These paltry launch titles were almost an embarrassment for Sony. How could they hope to walk into Nintendo's yard and claim it for their own? It was sheer foolishness to think this "new kid on the block" could compete. But as we'll see, things were about to change...
PS1 first year releases (before 9/9/96)
Discworld Star Wars: Dark Forces Descent Thunderstrike 2 XCOM Terror from the Deep Mortal Kombat 3 Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat Primal Rage Command & Conquer Crusader: No Remorse Fade to Black Hexen Beyond Heretic Spot Goes to Hollywood Twisted Metal Tekken Warhawk Wipeout Worms Star Wars Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire Warcraft II Tides of Darkness Gex Street Fighter Alpha Duke Nukem 3D X-Men Children of the Atom Wing Commander 4: The Price of Freedom King's Field Sid Meier's Civilization II D Descent II Resident Evil Battle Arena Toshinden 2 Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors Motor Toon Grand Prix Tekken 2 Crash Bandicoot Project Horned Owl Mortal Kombat Trilogy
As we can see, Sony opened the flood gates to what had previously been PC exclusives. Suddenly kids were playing Warcraft II and Duke Nukem 3D on their couches with controllers in their hands. Sony also landed massive 3rd party exclusives like Tekken 1 & 2, Darkstalkers and Crash Bandicoot (Naughty Dog was still 3rd Party back then). In addition, Sony's first party started to flex their muscles with Twisted Metal and Warhawk. But the real game changer was the price. While N64 cartridges regularly sold for $75, PS1 games were almost half off at only $39.99. As you can imagine, it wasn't long before the name "PlayStation" commanded some respect in the industry.
PlayStation 2 - Launched October 26, 2000
SSX DOA2: Hardcore Madden NFL 2001 Tekken Tag Tournament TimeSplitters Smuggler's Run Armored Core 2 Midnight Club Street Racing Ridge Racer V Swing Away Golf Unreal Tournament MotoGP Dynasty Warriors 2 Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2 Summoner Gungriffon Blaze ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding ESPN International Track & Field FantaVision Q-Ball: Billiards Master Street Fighter EX3 Wild Wild Racing X-Squad Silent Scope Eternal Ring Evergrace Orphen: Scion of Sorcery Surfing H3O
As we can see the PS2 launched with rather average launch titles. As good as Tekken Tag and SSX were, they weren't killer apps. Sega's Dreamcast had flown off the shelves mostly on the back of SoulCalibur and the following year, Microsoft's Xbox would do the same off of Halo: Combat Evolved. But Sony's new console would fly off the shelves on something not even gaming related: DVD compatibility. The PS2 was cheaper than the average DVD player and the ability to play games meant that it was the perfect "all in one" box the family needed that holiday season. "Come for the DVDs and stay for the games" was a winning strategy that ultimately destroyed Sega as we knew it and left Nintendo limping through the rest of that generation. But Sony was just getting started...
PS2 First Year releases (before 10/26/01)
Crazy Taxi The Sims Resident Evil Code Veronica Might & Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer Soldier of Fortune MDK2 Escape From Monkey Island The Operative: No One Lives Forever Deus Ex Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes Ecco the Dolphin Defender of the Future Knockout Kings 2001 Grandia II Kengo Master of Bushido Oni Star Wars: Starfighter Shadow of Destiny Onimusha Warlords Zone of the Enders Silpheed: The Lost Planet The Adventures of Cookie and Cream Myst III: Exile Red Faction Dark Cloud Twisted Metal Black Bloody Roar 3 Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec Max Payne Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil Armored Core 2: Another Age Stretch Panic Silent Scope 2: Dark Silhouette Commandos 2 Men of Courage Spy Hunter Ico Silent Hill 2 Guilty Gear X Time Crisis II Okage Shadow King Batman Vengeance Devil May Cry Grand Theft Auto III Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Over the next year, Sony unleashed awesome like no one else in the industry. Ico was considered one of the first games to be declared "art", old favorites like Tony Hawk and Twisted Metal returned and brand new IP's like Devil May Cry, Dark Cloud and Max Payne showed us all that "original recipe" was here to stay. But none of them compared to the game that would shake the industry to its foundations and break every sales record known to man: Grand Theft Auto III. It's interesting that even 13 years later we are still feeling this game's effects and being a timed exclusive ensured that PS2 was the undisputed victor of the 6th generation of gaming.
PlayStation 3 - Launched November 17, 2006
Resistance: Fall of Man Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 Call of Duty 3 NBA 2K7 NHL 2K7 Marvel Ultimate Alliance Ridge Racer 7 Madden NFL 07 Tony Hawk's Project 8 Need for Speed Carbon NBA 07 Untold Legends Genji Days of the Blade Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire
Launching at a whopping $600, the PS3 needed to justify it's price tag with some incredible games. And while Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Resistance were fine titles, they simply didn't make the PS3 worth it. Here on N4G.com, there was a running joke that the PS3 had no games, or more accurately, no games that justified the price of entry. Even if it's predecessor had sold more than 150 million units, the PS3 just didn't have the software that the Xbox 360 (or newly launched Wii) had. "Wii60" was the rallying cry that holiday season but Sony's PS2 was still enjoying great releases and would continue to do so for years to come with the final PS2 title being released this year! But PS3 had very welcome backwards compatibility and free online play that helped sustain it during it's rough beginnings.
PS3 First Year Releases (before 11/17/07)
Fight Night Round 3 Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Splinter Cell Double Agent Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) Rainbow Six Vegas Lost Planet Extreme Condition Virtua Fighter 5 Flow Peggle Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 Armored Core 4 Pac-Man Championship Edition The Darkness Ninja Gaiden Sigma Warhawk Lair Medal of Honor Airborne Stranglehold Heavenly Sword Skate Folklore Sega Rally Revo The Orange Box Everyday Shooter Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare Bladestorm The Hundred Years War Blacksite Area 51 Kane & Lynch Dead Men Assassin's Creed WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 Need for Speed ProStreet Soldier of Fortune Payback Uncharted Drake's Fortune
What we see during the first year of PS3 is this sense of Sony playing "catch up" to their competitors. Most of these games were 3rd party and, at first, didn't run as well on PS3 as on the 360. But Sony's first party studios came through eventually with a great new Ratchet & Clank as well as the beginning of one of the best series in gaming history: Uncharted. Sony launched the PlayStation Network and we also saw the beginning of smaller digital release games with Flow and Peggle. Smaller independent studios would eventually go on to radically alter the industry which had become stale and formulaic. And Sony invested early in independent gaming knowing it would lead to amazing things. PS3 eventually matched the Xbox 360 worldwide but Microsoft's console held sway over North America. Interestingly enough, it was Nintendo that dominated the industry for the first time in a decade by opening up gaming to new audiences with the Wii.
PlayStation 4 - Launched November 15, 2013
Flower FIFA 14 Battlefield 4 NBA 2K14 Resogun Sound Shapes Trine 2: Complete Story Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Lego Marvel Super Heroes Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition Need for Speed Rivals Skylanders Swap Force Call of Duty Ghosts DC Universe Online Just Dance 2014 Madden NFL 25 Killzone Shadow Fall Super Motherload Warframe Contrast Blacklight: Retribution Knack Angry Birds Star Wars
After the hard fought and chaotic 7th generation, Sony needed a clear winner. Once again, we don't see any killer apps. Resogun and Killzone aren't really system sellers. But this time Sony didn't bet on the software. Instead, they gambled that a great price tag and good word of mouth would win the day. And they were overwhelmingly right. Nintendo's last gen graphics and Microsoft's disastrous public relations left the vast majority of gamers seeing PS4 as the better option. By the end of the 2013 holiday season, Sony was the undisputed market leader having sold almost double that of it's closest competitor and leaving many industry analysts scratching their heads.
PS4 First Year Releases (before 11/15/14)
Stick it to the Man! SteamWorld Dig Peggle 2 The Lego Movie Videogame Strider Thief Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare Towerfall Ascension Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes Infamous Second Son Lego the Hobbit Trials Fusion Amazing Spider-Man 2 Child of Light Bound by Flame Transistor Wolfenstein The New Order Watch Dogs 1001 Spikes Murdered Soul Suspect Entwined Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark Valiant Hearts the Great War Sniper Elite III Oddworld Abe's Oddysee New n Tasty Hohokum CounterSpy Velocity 2X Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate Destiny DG2 Defense Grid 2 Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor Natural Doctrine Pier Solar and the Great Architects Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishments Alien Isolation DriveClub Pix the Cat The Evil Within The Legend of Korra Samurai Warriors 4 Lords of the Fallen WWE 2K15 Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Assassin's Creed Unity Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
PS4's first year on the market was a fairly uninspiring affair. Despite great 3rd party games like Shadow of Mordor, Alien Isolation and Wolfenstein, and decent first party offerings like Infamous and DriveClub, Sony really didn't do much to stand out from the pack. Necessary system updates were long in the coming and many requested features are still not available. The critics and fans were much more enamored with Nintendo's dazzling display with Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad and Super Smash Bros. Even Microsoft managed a few moments in the spotlight with Titanfall, Forza Horizon 2 and even Halo: the Master Chief Collection (despite it's flaws). Of course, 2015 looks to be a very different year with tons of PS4 exclusives but that doesn't excuse Sony's poor showing this year.
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Looking back at the PlayStation launch years, it's clear to me that Sony's best was during PS2's launch from 2000-2001. The deluge of amazing original titles and incredible sequels were almost overwhelming. PS1 comes in at a close 2nd place, especially with the state of the market that PS1 entered at. Taking down a market leader is always difficult but Sony did it with style. PS3 and PS4 are debatable. PS3 started out rough but quickly found it's feet. PS4 started incredibly strong but stumbled during the first year.
While Sony has been dawdling, it seems that Nintendo has recovered significantly and we'll likely see the big N roaring their battle cry with Xenoblade Chronicles X, Splatoon, Star Fox U, Yoshi's Wooly World, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse and most promisingly, the next Zelda. Sony will need to stop holding back it's big guns to face this resurgent force. PS4 needs to see third party blockbusters like Final Fantasy XV, Bloodborne, Street Fighter V, MGS V and Kingdom Hearts III to remind gamers that 1st party games don't win the console war. And while they are at it, they need to release better 1st party games too like Uncharted 4 and the next God of War. Microsoft may even have a few surprises of their own. Tomb Raider's exclusivity certainly lit up the internet this year.
Sony has their work cut out for them and it's quite the task. I have never seen a console go from zero to hero as fast as the Wii U has. With all the advantages Sony had at the start of this generation, they have largely been complacent. 2015 needs to be the year Sony cuts loose. As a PlayStation fan, I need to see some fight in them.
This blog is entirely my opinion. Please post any questions or comments below. For those of you that made it through that incredibly long blog, thanks for reading!