As we approach the PlayStation 5, I feel like we should take a look back at some of the past PlayStation consoles in terms of how they stand up in terms of game library. PlayStation systems are known for their vast, and varied game libraries, filled with both quality first and third party software. So here's my ranking for each PlayStation system in terms of variety, quality, and quantity.
1. PlayStation 2
What else is there to say about the PS2? It didn't sell over 157 million units by doing nothing. The undisputed king of the 6th Generation. The PS2, more than any competing console of that gen, encapsulated gaming in the early 2000s to a T. With a seemingly endless library of Platformers, Racers, Fighters, RPGs, etc. Many of them originally exclusive to the platform, and many of which still hold up today. It also birthed some of Sony's biggest first party properties such as Ratchet & Clank, God of War, and Killzone. Sure it may not have had the power or ease of development as the Xbox or Nintendo GameCube, and its massive library meant that there was a ton of garbage to wade through. But its massive success meant that developers couldn't ignore it.
2. PlayStation 4
After a generation of Brown and Grey Shooters, and motion controlled music games that went on far longer than it should've, The PS4 couldn't have arrived at a better time in 2013. Eschewing the convoluted Cell Architecture of the PlayStation 3 in favor a cheaper, and far more reliable PC-based chipset, The PS4 was the easiest PlayStation to develop for, and much like the PS1 and PS2, was the leader of its generation, defining what gaming in the 2010s would be like thanks to its wide array of new social features, and unprecedented game library. If a game exists, chances are, there's a PS4 version, and chances are, it'd be the definitive version. Much like the PS2, the PS4 boasts a vast, and seemingly endless library of AAA, indie, First party titles, and everything in between. While it doesn't have nearly as many actual exclusives as the PS2 did, due to the realities of modern game development, the PS4 still boasts the largest catalog of software for those in the market for a new home gaming system.
The console that started it all. The PlayStation completely shook up the video game industry when it debuted. It made disc-based media a mandatory necessity, dethroned industry veterans Nintendo and Sega, and open the medium up to an audience of young adults that otherwise had no interest in video games. It's library is vast and just like the PS2 and PS4, spans nearly every genre. There's just one problem. A lot of its games simply don't hold up today. Either due to hardware limitations, or just the fact that this was the early era of 3D gaming. There's still a lot of great games in the PlayStation catalog, but many of them were also reborn in either superior remakes, or sequels on future hardware that did them better justice. So while it brought a lot of great franchises and games to the table, its overall library is only worth looking at for either nostalgia or retrospect.
4. PlayStation Portable
PlayStation's first foray into on-the-go gaming. The PSP gave you PS2 style graphics and gameplay in the palm of your hand, plus a variety of multi-media functions that in many ways, laid the ground work for the smartphones we carry with us now. It's actual library was also solid, consisting of a good variety of genres from both Sony and third party publishers. Though it faced a large amount of competition from the Nintendo DS and its even larger library, the PSP held its own thanks to its more powerful hardware, allowing for different types of games that what you'd find on Nintendo's platform. It's mainly held back by not having a ton of groundbreaking exclusives, with many of its games either being downscaled adaptations of console franchises, or solid B-tier titles like Loco Roco.
5. PlayStation 3
The most divisive console in the franchise. The PS3 was built on a then-ultra powerful, and highly complex Cell Broadband architecture that while impressive, made the console a pain in the ass to do work with. As a result, many of the console's early multiplatform games often looked and played worse than their Xbox 360 counterparts, despite technically being the more powerful machine. Plus, as games became more expensive to develop, the PS3 didn't have nearly as many games it could call its own, and thus, features a far smaller, less varied lineup than previous PlayStaion home consoles as a result. That's not to say it didn't have a lot of great games, because it did. Sony beefed up its first party support for the PS3 later on to compensate for the third party troubles, which birthed critically acclaimed darlings like the Uncharted Series, The Last of Us, and Journey. Towards the end, many multiplatform titles began actually being competent versions, many even offering PlayStation owners exclusive content. So while it's by no means a terrible console, the PS3 was a step down from its predecessors in terms of library
6. PlayStation Vita
Now we get to the black sheep of the PlayStation franchise. The PS Vita was Sony's final hat thrown into the uncertain handheld gaming arena, at a time when games on Smartphones were reaching their peak. Including consoles and handhelds, its the least successful PlayStation system in history, with less than 20 million units sold worldwide. Aside from some niche Japanese titles, and a solid selection of indie games, the Vita pretty much had no long-term third party support worth mentioning, which is unheard of for a PlayStation console. Even Sony itself didn't really know what they wanted to do with this damn thing, as they supported it mostly with watered down PS3-like titles, before giving up in 2014 to focus on the much more profitable PlayStation 4. Despite some cult hits like Terraway and Gravity Rush, the PS Vita is the weakest in terms of library, which is a shame given how much potential the device had early on.