PlayStation has always relied heavily on first party exclusives, and that’s truer now than it’s ever been. Over the last decade or so, Sony has elevated its first party portfolio to completely new heights, and by the looks of it, it’s only going to get better. No one knows what the future holds though, so here, we’re focused entirely on the present. We’ll be taking a look at all of Sony’s currently active first party franchises, and rank them.
“Currently active” is a pretty nebulous term though- it can mean any number of things, and no one can be entirely sure of which franchises are active and which aren’t unless they’re privy to Sony’s plans, which we, of course, are not. For the purposes of this feature then, we’re only looking at franchises that have either had recent entries, or have upcoming new instalments that have been officially announced- or, you know, both.
#10. MLB THE SHOW
MLB The Show has never been one of Sony’s biggest mainstream franchises, but though it doesn’t have the aura and luster of PlayStation’s blockbuster cinematic experiences, there’s no denying how admirably consistent it’s been. Year over year, MLB The Show delivers excellent baseball sims, making meaningful iterative improvements, adding excellent new content and features, and generally doing a pretty good job of responding to players’ feedback. Now, the series has expanded beyond the boundaries of PlayStation, making its second appearance on Xbox and its first on the Switch with the upcoming MLB The Show 23. How that shapes the series’ future remains to be seen, but it’s certainly done enough to warrant some optimism.
#9. ASTRO BOT
Astro Bot is far from a traditional franchise for Sony. Based on the cast of robots first introduced in the 2013 PS4 title The Playroom, the franchise made its debut as a PSVR exclusive with the excellent Astro Bot Rescue Mission, before making a sophomore appearance as a PS5 pack-in game with Astro’s Playroom, which, in spite of effectively being a playable DualSense tech demo, was a delightful game in its own right. It’s very much on the fringes of the PlayStation family, at least as far as the mainstream market is concerned, but Astro Bot has been an absolute delight with each of its offerings. Here’s hoping we get a full-fledged new entry in the not-too-distant future.
#8. RATCHET AND CLANK
Ratchet and Clank is two decades old at this point, which makes it one of the oldest and longest-running franchises in this list. Sure, Insomniac’s action platformer series has seen its fair shares of ups and downs, and those downs have been rather forgettable (if we’re putting it mildly)- but when Ratchet and Clank is firing on all cylinders, as it was with last year’s Rift Apart, there’s nothing else quite like it. Humour, charm, gorgeous visuals, enjoyable action, imaginative weaponry- when this series ticks all these boxes, it’s impossible not to be enamoured with it.
#7. GRAN TURISMO
Gran Turismo is the oldest franchise in this list, but by that same token, it’s also the only one that’s been a PlayStation mainstay for as long as both of them have been around. From the days of the PS1 right up until now, Gran Turismo has been a flagship franchise for Sony, and for the majority of its life, the series has been the standard bearer for the racing sim genre. Yes, it’s stumbled more than a few times in recent years, with Gran Turismo Sport in particular being a low point, and yes, Gran Turismo 7’s monetization and connectivity woes have made for a rough launch, but the future is still looking solid. Why? Because as a game, GT7 is the best this series has been in a long, long time, and if Polyphony Digital can address issues based on player feedback, it could get even better.
In many ways, Uncharted is the blueprint for Sony’s current first party model. In its early years (with Uncharted 2 in particular), Naughty Dog’s franchise stunned audiences with its breathtaking action, best-in-class visuals, cinematic storytelling, and the success that Sony enjoyed on the back of that brought about immense changes not only for Sony as a developer and publisher, but the industry as a whole. Of course, Uncharted’s immense legacy only exists because the games warrant it. Of course, right now, there’s no telling when we’ll get a new Uncharted game, or if Naughty Dog will even develop it- we did just get the Legacy of Thieves Collection though, so that’s something.
#5. GHOST OF TSUSHIMA
With Sly Cooper and inFamous both spawning franchises with multiple entries that saw their fair share of critical and commercial success, Sucker Punch has contributed plenty to the history of PlayStation over the years, but the studio never really broke through into the forefront the way other Sony studios did- until very, very recently. Ghost of Tsushima launched in 2020, and while it was always almost guaranteed to be successful, no one could have predicted it would be as successful as it was. Within months of its launch, the game sold millions, and Sony signed off on a film adaptation, all of it on the back of the widespread (and well-deserved) acclaim that the game itself received from critics and audiences alike. With Ghost of Tsushima, Sucker Punch has now very much become one of PlayStation’s premier first party studios.
Horizon was to Guerrilla Games was Ghost of Tsushima was to Sucker Punch. Sure, Killzone was very successful, and during the PS3 years, was one of Sony’s most important franchises, but it could never even come close to enjoying the level of success that Horizon did. In more ways than one, it was the exact opposite of what Guerrilla had previously been known for, and it was truly incredible. Horizon Zero Dawn sold a ton, reviewed extremely well, and has now spawned a sequel that has also reviewed extremely well and will also likely sell a ton. With Horizon Call of the Mountain in the works for PSVR2 and a co-op Horizon game strongly rumoured to be in development, it’s clear that this has quickly become one of Sony’s biggest franchises in a very short time.
#3. MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN
Just like Guerrilla Games and Sucker Punch, Insomniac, too, touched completely new heights during the PS4 era. Marvel’s Spider-Man, however, turned out to be an entirely different beast- and it’s not hard to understand why. Not only it is one of Insomniac’s best and biggest game to date, it also carries one of the most popular licenses in the world- that’s a deadly combination that’s resulted in stellar critical and commercial success, quickly turning Spider-Man into a flagship franchise for Sony.
#2. THE LAST OF US
If Uncharted lay down the foundation for Sony’s first party model, The Last of Us built the first storey of the building on top of it. PlayStation’s first party output is very strongly associated with cinematic, story-driven action-adventure games with a very particular style, and it was The Last of Us that set that blueprint in place. The Last of Us Part 2 made a massive splash as well, though in an entirely different way, and improved and expanded the series in exciting ways, both from gameplay and narrative perspectives. With the upcoming HBO adaptation, the series’ cache is only going to grow, and if Sony releases the standalone Factions game and the rumoured The Last of Us 1 remake in the coming years, fans will have more than enough to look forward to.
#1. GOD OF WAR
It’s incredible that God of War is even on this list, because for quite a while, it looked like the series had no future. God of War: Ascension seemed like the final nail in the aging series’ coffin, but the 2018 soft reboot completely turned the tables. God of War has not only been revitalized, it’s enjoyed critical and commercial success on a level it never had before- which is saying a lot, because it was massively successful even before its reinvention. This is a series that started out strong, got better with subsequent sequels, and when it started slipping, instantly came back with an exciting reimagining that spells even greater things for the future. For all of these reasons and more, God of War is the undisputed king of PlayStation.