All PlayStation Console Generations In Order Of Release
Sony has been in the home console arena for five generations. It feels just like yesterday that the original PlayStation launched, declaring a new era for gaming. For one thing, when Sony entered the market it encouraged competition.
You could say it’s the gamers who benefit from the console wars to this very day. The PlayStation brand continues to leave an indelible mark on the gaming industry. In this list, we’ll be looking back at all PlayStation console generations in the order of their release.
The original PlayStation console got its start in 1994 in Japan, and 1995 in North America and Europe, respectively. The first PlayStation console rose from the ashes of a failed partnership between Sony and Nintendo for the former to produce a CD-ROM accessory for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo backed out, fearing that Sony would wrench away control of a sizable chunk of profit from the accessory. Few prototypes of this so-called “Nintendo PlayStation” exist. When the deal fell through, Sony was intent on creating their own video game console, keeping the PlayStation branding.
When PlayStation was formally introduced at the first E3 expo in 1995 its price of $299 USD was met with applause. To compare, Sega was selling their Sega Saturn console for the price of $399 USD. It’s no surprise why supply and demand for this console was sparse in its early days. Sony had produced one of the best PlayStation consoles right out of the gate. The boot-up sound of the console is one of the sweetest melodies we will never forget.
With the PlayStation’s success, we got some good games too. Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, Tekken, and Tomb Raider are household names to this day. The DualShock controller is also why we have a twin analog stick control scheme in the present.
2. PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2 launched in 2000 and had an unprecedented 13-year lifespan. The PS2 is often regarded as the best PlayStation console of all time. It deserves that title, having sold over 155 million units globally. No other gaming console has toppled the PS2 as the best-selling console, though the Nintendo Switch is certainly giving it a run for its money. At the time of this writing, Nintendo Switch has sold over 129.5 million units. Perhaps the Nintendo DS doesn’t count since it’s a handheld console but it sold over a whopping 154 million units in its lifetime. That’s really close.
That competition speaks highly of what Sony was able to accomplish with the PlayStation 2. This PlayStation console came with a built-in DVD player, more affordable than standalone DVD players at the time. The PS2 also boasts backward compatibility with PS1 games. Looking back, if anything can be criticized about the PlayStation 2 it would be its graphics output and limited online gaming service.
These critiques are small grievances in the larger scope of this PlayStation console, however. The PS2’s immense library of games makes these shortcomings fall by the wayside. Devil May Cry, God of War, Jak and Daxter, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet & Clank, and Sly Cooper all had their start on PlayStation 2.
The PlayStation 3 may not have been the top PlayStation console of its time, but it’s still a great one. The PS3 had its launch in 2006 in Japan and North America and in 2007 for PAL regions. It was initially announced in 2005 and unveiled with a bizarre-looking boomerang-shaped prototype controller. The PS3 is the first high-definition PlayStation console and uses Blu-ray Disc technology. Released in the seventh generation of video game consoles, the PS3 had a little bit of a late start with the competition. However, we all know it was the Wii craze that won the console wars this generation.
Still, the PlayStation 3 is arguably one of the top PlayStation Consoles on this list. This is the era of PlayStation that introduced the PlayStation Network. There was a time when playing fan-favorite multiplayer games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn’t cost anything extra to play online. Although, the DualShock 3 controller makes first-person shooters feel awkward to play with its now archaic button layout. The PlayStation Store is still accessible to this day. Sony was set to shut it down but has since reversed their decision.
This PlayStation console got so many exclusives in its lifetime and introduced several new IPs. Resistance: Fall of Man, Heavenly Sword, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Gran Turismo 5, LittleBigPlanet, The Last of Us, Killzone 2, Infamous, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots are just a few critically acclaimed releases on PS3. PlayStation 3 features a robust library that still holds up to this day.
4. PlayStation 4
Before the eighth generation of video game consoles took off, Sony’s next PlayStation console was already making waves. PlayStation 4 launched in 2013 and it’s hard to believe ten years have come and gone. In the months leading up to its release, the PS4’s success was essentially secured. What Microsoft seemed to be doing wrong with their Xbox One console, Sony was doing right with PlayStation 4. Unlike the Xbox One, this PlayStation console is revered for not ostracizing its consumers. Sony embraced indie developers, the PS4 can be enjoyed offline, gamers can share their physical discs with others, and had no shady practices regarding digital rights management.
Regarding the PS4’s aesthetic, we’re glad that Sony deviated away from the traditional DualShock design. By its third generation, the DualShock layout was already getting really stale to look at. Sony got Bungie’s input on the design of DualShock 4 to make it comfortable for shooters. The PS4’s asking price of $399 made it a preferred choice over Xbox One’s $499.
The PS4 proves itself as one of the best PlayStation console generations with its impressive library of exclusives. Some new IPs also appeared in this generation for the first time, such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Knack, Bloodborne, Driveclub, and The Order 1886. If you haven’t already added these exclusives to your PS4 lineup you best get on it: Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Metal Gear Solid 5, The Phantom Pain, The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, Gran Turismo Sport, Detroit: Become Human, and Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Here at last we are living out the ninth generation of video game consoles. Sony’s PlayStation 5 released in late 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic did no favors to the console’s release due to the global chip shortage. Stock of the PS5 would be snatched up and scalped for outrageous prices on the resale market. In 2023, it appears that the PlayStation 5 is once again winning the console war against the Xbox Series X|S. As of October 2023, Sony has reportedly sold over 40 million units of the PS5 against the Xbox Series X|S at over 21 million units sold.
In terms of the PS5’s aesthetic, its most intriguing feature is the DualSense controller. The controller features force feedback triggers. In first-person shooters, for example, nocking an arrow causes the trigger to resist the player’s finger pressure. The vibration feature is also more responsive than ever before. The PlayStation 5’s included Astro’s Playroom game feels way more than just your run-of-the-mill tech demo. While Astro’s Playroom makes use of the DualSense controller’s unique features, the game also acts as a time capsule of PlayStation history.
One major thing the Xbox Series X|S has over PlayStation 5 is backward compatibility. Every generation of Xbox games is supported on Microsoft’s current console while the PS5 only supports PS4 compatibility. That said, Sony’s absolute strength in this generation continues to be in its exclusive offerings. Must-have games include; Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Returnal, Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarök, and the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. PlayStation 5 is on track to becoming one of the best PlayStation consoles ever released.