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Let’s Compare Every PlayStation Console's Launch Lineup

The ghost of Knack watches...
Image: Stephen Shugerman / Stringer / Sony / Kotaku (Getty Images)

Next-gen is almost upon us, and both Microsoft and Sony have finally revealed which games are launching alongside each console in November. Some folks are disappointed by all the ports and cross-gen games. But is this any different than with previous PlayStation launch lineups? Let’s go digging and find out.

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To keep this more organized and focused, I’m only considering games that were available at launch in the United States. To start, here’s the list of brand-new games that will be available on PlayStation 5 when it launches on Nov 12.

(Correction: The original version of this post accidentally misstated the launch date of the PS5.)

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Launch PlayStation 5 games that are new:

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Astro’s Playroom (Installed on every PS5)
Demon’s Souls (Remake)
Destiny 2: Beyond Light
Destruction All-Stars
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
Godfall
Observer: System Redux
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Spider-Man: Miles Morales

At first glance this might not look like a big list. But remember that games like Watch Dogs: Legion, Avengers, and Rainbow Six Siege, to name just a few, will technically be playable on the PS5 at launch. Some of these games will just be backward compatible with no enhancements, while others will enjoy technical upgrades on the next-gen consoles. It’s a little confusing, but the list above includes all of the new games that are launching with the console.

Illustration for article titled Let’s Compare Every PlayStation Consoles Launch Lineup
Image: Sony
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So how does this list compare to previous PlayStation launch lineups? Well, it depends on which lineup you are comparing this with and what you want out of a launch lineup. First let’s look at the original PS1 launch lineup, which consisted of 12 games back in September 1995.

Launch PlayStation games:

Air Combat
Battle Arena Toshinden
ESPN Extreme Games
Kileak: The DNA Imperative
NBA JAM Tournament Edition
Power Serve 3D Tennis
Rayman
Ridge Racer
Street Fighter: The Movie
The Raiden Project
Total Eclipse Turbo
Zero Divide

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This lineup has a few classics, like Rayman, Ridge Racer, and Air Combat, and also contains some real stinkers, like Street Fighter: The Movie and Kileak: The DNA Imperative. But it at least offers a decent amount of variety, with a few sports games, a shooter, some racing action, three fighting games, and even an aerial combat game. A little something for everyone!

Comparing this to the current list of PS5 launch games is interesting because Sony seems to be trying the same approach and has a variety of games. You’ve got colorful platforming, car combat, an open-world RPG, action games, superheroes, remakes, and an online shooter. Once again, a little something for everyone.

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In terms of exclusives it’s a different story, with the PS1 offering seven exclusive games out of its total 12-game lineup, which is more than half. (You might also consider Rayman as an exclusive, though it was already out in Europe for the Atari Jaguar.) In comparison, the PS5 lineup only has three exclusive games out of 10.

Illustration for article titled Let’s Compare Every PlayStation Consoles Launch Lineup
Image: EA
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In 2000, the PS2 launched and brought with it 29 games. This lineup was much, much larger than the PS1 offering and is larger than the current PS5 lineup.

Launch PlayStation 2 games:

Armored Core 2
DOA2: Hardcore
Dynasty Warriors 2
ESPN International Track and Field
ESPN X-Games Snowboarding
Eternal Ring
Evergrace
FantaVision
Gungriffon Blaze
Kessen
Madden NFL 2001
Midnight Club
Moto GP
NHL 2001
Orphen
Q-Ball Billiards Master
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
Ridge Racer V
Silent Scope
Smuggler’s Run
SSX
Street Fighter EX3
Summoner
Swing Away
Tekken Tag Tournament
TimeSplitters
Unreal Tournament
Wild Wild Racing
X-Squad

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Nearly 30 games! Impressive. However it, like most other console launch lineups, is filled with some real forgettable games. X-Squad, Q-Ball Billiards Master, and some fine but not exciting sports games. But like the PS5 and PS1 launch lineups, this huge list is incredibly diverse, offering players fighting games, racing games, extreme sports, shooters, some fantasy, some RPGs, some mechs, and even a fireworks-based puzzle game.

When it comes to exclusives, it’s almost unbelievable but a large majority of the launch games on the PS2 were exclusive. 21 out of 29 games available on day one were only on the PS2. Many would stay exclusive too, never releasing on other platforms like the GameCube or Xbox. That’s not something we see anymore and probably never will again. There are also only four cross-gen games on the list.

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They’re not all bangers—the PlayStation 2’s launch lineup was roundly criticized for its lack of killer apps at the time—but this lineup sure had a huge amount of new and exclusive games. It’s also a reminder of just how popular the PlayStation brand was at this point in time.

Illustration for article titled Let’s Compare Every PlayStation Consoles Launch Lineup
Image: Sony / Insomniac Games
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In 2006, a year after the Xbox 360 had already debuted, the PS3 launched in America with 14 games, less than half the amount the PS2 launched with six years earlier.

Launch PlayStation 3 games:

Blast Factor
Call of Duty 3
Genji: Days of the Blade
Madden NFL 07
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire
NBA 07
NBA 2K7
Need for Speed Carbon
Resistance: Fall of Man
Ridge Racer 7
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
Tony Hawk’s Project 8
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom

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Less can be more, but this PS3 lineup ain’t really proving that to be true. Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a gem of a game and Tony Hawk’s Project 8 was a solid installment in the then-aging franchise. But then you have forgettable-or-worse stuff like Blast Factor, Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire, and Genji. (Sorry to Kotaku’s Mike Fahey.) After the incredibly large and impressive PS2 launch, this felt like a timid and disappointing start to a next-generation PlayStation console. This launch lineup would also feed into a narrative that the PS3 had no games, which Sony couldn’t shake for years.

This lineup was not only smaller, it had far fewer exclusives too. Only six games out of the 14 were exclusive to the PS3. (And the other eight were cross-gen titles.) But this is still about half, so Sony remained consistent, even if the total number of games dropped.

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I remember getting a PS3 in 2007 and even then folks were joking about the lack of games. Considering how the PS3 struggled for years to compete with the Xbox 360, this lineup was a bad start to a rough time for Sony.

Illustration for article titled Let’s Compare Every PlayStation Consoles Launch Lineup
Screenshot: Sony
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2013 saw the release of both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. That November, Sony launched the PS4 with 25 games, a total that’s just a few games shy of the PS2’s 29-game lineup.

Launch PlayStation 4 games:

Angry Birds Star Wars
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Battlefield 4
Blacklight: Retribution
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Contrast
DC Universe Online
FIFA 14
Flower
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
Just Dance 2014
Killzone Shadow Fall
Knack
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Madden NFL 25
NBA 2K14
NBA Live 14
Need for Speed: Rivals
Resogun
Skylanders Swap Force
Sound Shapes
Super Motherload
The PlayRoom (Installed on every PS4)
Trine 2: The Complete Story
Warframe

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The PS4 launched with far more games than the PS3 and a few, like Warframe, were free-to-play. I remember spending a lot of time playing Warframe on my PS4 because the only other game I had was Battlefield 4 and it was totally broken at launch. The rest of the lineup was a mix of decent games, but nothing too exciting or what you could call a killer app. The best game of the bunch was probably Resogun, an arcade-style shooter I played on and off for a few years after launch.

While the PS4 had more (and a few free) games, it was mostly a lot of cross-gen titles, 18 out of 25 to be precise. This was still the era when we were getting two NBA games each year, but we also got other cross-gen games like Call of Duty: Ghosts, Injustice, Skylanders, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. These games weren’t terrible, but they weren’t hugely better on PS4 compared to on PS3. And with only four exclusive games, the least amount available at launch for a Sony console yet, the “half of the lineup being exclusive” trend was broken. I assume someone cared.

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We did get Knack, a character and game that has become more famous today than he ever was back in 2013. One day we will get a Knack 3 and the internet might explode from all the memes and jokes.

Let’s wrap this up with some stats!

PS1 Launch Lineup

  • Total Number: 12
  • Exclusive Games: 7
  • Cross-gen Games: 0

PS2 Launch Lineup

  • Total Number: 29
  • Exclusive Games: 21
  • Cross-gen Games: 4

PS3 Launch Lineup

  • Total Number: 14
  • Exclusive Games: 6
  • Cross-gen Games: 8

PS4 Launch Lineup

  • Total Number: 25
  • Exclusive Games: 4
  • Cross-gen Games: 18

PS5 Launch Lineup

  • Total Number: 10
  • Exclusive Games: 3
  • Cross-gen Games: 5

Just as with the Xbox Series X/S lineup, PS5’s official launch lineup is more confusing to pin down than those of previous consoles. A lot of games are getting ported, remastered, or rereleased in different ways, and many games are coming to PC and one console, making it hard to define what a true exclusive is and isn’t. Like I said previously, the lines between exclusive and launch games are blurring in ways we’ve never really seen, which makes it harder to accurately and concisely explain what is and isn’t a launch game in 2020.

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Illustration for article titled Let’s Compare Every PlayStation Consoles Launch Lineup
Photo: Sony

For example, the PS5 is launching with a bunch of PS4 games that PS Plus members will get access to from day one. Are those launch games? Should we count them? If that’s the case you could make an argument that every PS1 game should have been considered a launch game for the PS2, since that console had backward compatibility. I don’t know if there is a right answer, I’m just here to provide some data and stats and my own take.

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As I said in the Xbox lineup comparison blog, the real question you have to ask yourself is if you prefer shiny new games of middling quality or old, reliable favorites with improved visuals. Answer that, and you’ll have a better idea of whether you’ll find a given console’s launch lineup worth the early cost of admission.

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Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

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DISCUSSION

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Foxstar loves Bashcraft

The last systems that I remember having a ‘Nailed it’ launch or major titles that came within the launch window were the Dreamcast, the SNES, the GameBoy and the PS2, even though as noted the PS2 had some outright trash that some poor suckers were stuck with.

Runners up with be the OG Xbox, because Halo turned everything on it’s head and spawned massive flamewars usually coming from Mac fans who were still pissed off, the N64, because Mario 64 was such a landmark platformer that it disrupted games being worked on and the Sega CD, because even though it launched with almost total garbage, it showed that CD was indeed the future, yet SOA refused to bring some of the biggest system sellers over from Japan which means it never fully took off like it should.