How Do PS5 And Xbox Series X’s Current Launch Lineups Compare To Previous Generations?

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What makes the next generation of consoles such an exciting prospect is the promise of new experiences. Whether that’s new ways to play games, or more exciting ways to engage with others online, the next-gen consoles usher in a new era in the games industry. But what can determine a new console’s early success and subsequent growth, is its slate of launch games. Whether it’s games that lean heavily into hardware gimmicks, show off some of the latest visual leaps forward with the new consoles, or are just glorified tech-demos to show off on your television screen–historically, the launch lineups show a little bit of everything for a new console.

With the coming arrival of PS5 and Xbox Series X in the next few months, we’re taking a look back at previous launch lineups for current and past generation consoles, and how the next-gen is stacking up–so far at least. We’re still in the dark about what to expect from the console’s launch window, which is usually the first few months after its release on the market. Below, we’ve only included games that will launch with the new consoles and shortly after, along with a quick rundown of each console’s launch’s history, including where it went right and where it went wrong. Expect some updates for this feature in the future when either Sony or Microsoft make more announcements about their next-gen plans this fall.

PlayStation 5: Holiday 2020

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, developed by Insomniac Games

On August 20, Sony Interactive Entertainment senior vice president Eric Lampel said in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz that the PS5 launch is “the best lineup that we’ve ever seen in the history of PlayStation, between our Worldwide Studios groups and our partners from all the different publishers around the world.” It’s certainly a bold claim. Generally speaking, PlayStation has had solid launch lineups for its newest consoles. But in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which saw much of the games industry shift plans en masse, Sony has been keeping things close to the vest.

In addition to its usual suite of third-party games from Ubisoft, Codemasters, and EA, PS5 will also see some noteworthy exclusives that caught a lot of attention during the June 2020 reveal. The most notable exclusive is Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which is only confirmed to arrive on the next-generation console. One other Sony exclusive revealed at the June event was the Demon’s Souls remake from Bluepoint Games. While it wasn’t given an expected launch window, some recent game rating listings from South Korea and Japan could be a sign that the remaster might release much sooner than we think.

Since PS5’s reveal last June, we’ve unfortunately seen delays for some of its more notable third-party games, which include Arkane Studios’ Deathloop and Paradox Interactive’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. However, one third-party exclusive still in line to launch this holiday season is Godfall, which will arrive on PC and PS5. Another game in the launch window lineup is the adventure game Bugsnax, which has become something of an internet-favorite. In addition to the launch lineup, PS5 will also be fully backward compatible with all PS4 games, allowing you to play current games on new hardware–some of which will have next-gen upgrades.

Xbox Series X: November 2020

Crossfire X, developed by Smilegate and Remedy Entertainment
Crossfire X, developed by Smilegate and Remedy Entertainment

Since its reveal at The Game Awards 2019, developers behind the Xbox Series X have stated that it is the most powerful console ever released. Valve Software’s Gabe Newell even claimed that Xbox Series X hardware is superior to PS5. Much like PS5, most of the Xbox Series X’s lineup will consist of third-party offerings, including games like Dragon Quest XI S, Outriders, and EA’s slate of annual sports games. One third-party exclusive of note is Yakuza: Like A Dragon. Launching as a timed next-gen exclusive on Xbox Series X (with releases on Xbox One, PS4, and PC as well), the new Yakuza game is the next major game in a franchise that has grown in popularity in the West over recent years.

However, one major hurdle that Xbox Series X will need to overcome is the lack of a killer-app. On the same day that Xbox Series X’s November release was revealed, it was also announced that Halo Infinite had been delayed till 2021. According to 343 Industries, due to the growing scale of the game and the unexpected challenges that came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Halo Infinite wouldn’t be able to make it for the launch of the next-gen. This delay is a massive blow to Xbox Series X. The Halo series has been a crucial part of the console’s history, and the game’s open-ended scope would have made for an exciting way to show off what the new console can do. Halo Infinite’s original launch day release also would have made it the first time since the first Halo that a game in the series would release on the same day as a new console.

Still, Xbox Series X has a lot to offer players in the console launch period, which extends beyond its slate of new games. In addition to backwards compatibility with existing Xbox One games, another significant advantage that Xbox Series X still has over PS5 is its massive catalog of games available on day one via Game Pass. Starting back in 2018 on the Xbox One, the Game Pass subscription service offers users a wide range of games to play, allowing them to try out different games. Couple this with the new Smart Delivery initiative, letting you purchase certain games like Dirt 5, Cyberpunk 2077, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Xbox One and then redeem next-gen versions on the new console as well, it puts it in stark contrast to PS5, which is not as clear about its upgrade path. Xbox Series X has plenty to offer for fans at its launch while they wait for new console exclusives to arrive.

PlayStation 4: November 15, 2013

Killzone: Shadow Fall, developed by Guerrilla Games
Killzone: Shadow Fall, developed by Guerrilla Games

  • Assassin’s Creed 4: 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
  • Need for Speed Rivals
  • Resogun
  • Sound Shapes
  • Super Motherload
  • Trine 2: Complete Story
  • Warframe

While PlayStation 4 lacked many first-party exclusives, the console’s launch was still a success for Sony. This success was due to its diverse lineup of games and focus on an accessible approach to gaming, which was in stark contrast to its competition–but more on that later. In addition to some well-received first-party releases like Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack, PS4’s library also included a suite of digital games like Resogun. One of the reasons why the launch was a hit with fans was Sony’s clear messaging and how it set expectations for consumers. Compared to its competitor Microsoft, which muddled the overall message of Xbox One at its debut, PS4 offered an accessible yet still broad range of games. Sony focused primarily on the traditional gaming experience, which made the transition to next-gen easy for consumers. Third-party launch games like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Just Dance 2014, and Lego: Marvel Super Heroes made for a well-rounded lineup, making the jump to next-gen more enticing.

With the continued push for more online connectivity during the early 2010s, PS4’s usability offline also made it an easy choice for consumers who didn’t have a reliable connection and wanted to play their games untethered from the internet. By comparison, its direct competitor, Xbox One, had to walk back its always online focus before launch. In comparison to its rough launch of the PlayStation 3, the PS4 turned out a good start for Sony in the next-gen.

Xbox One: November 22, 2013

Killer Instinct, developed by Double Helix Games and Iron Galaxy
Killer Instinct, developed by Double Helix Games and Iron Galaxy

  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Battlefield 4
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Crimson Dragon
  • Dead Rising 3
  • FIFA 14
  • Fighter Within
  • Forza Motorsport 5
  • Just Dance 2014
  • Killer Instinct
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes
  • Lococycle
  • Madden NFL 25
  • NBA 2K14
  • NBA LIVE 14
  • Need for Speed: Rivals
  • Powerstar Golf
  • Ryse: Son of Rome
  • Skylanders: Swap Force
  • Zoo Tycoon
  • Zumba Fitness: World Party

The launch of the Xbox One stands as one of the most unusual and cumbersome debuts for a new console, and the hardware’s starting lineup of games also reflected this. With Xbox One being pushed as the nexus for all entertainment in the living room–which encompassed TV, movies, music, fitness, and games–it ended up creating something of an identity crisis. While it did feature some decent first-party games like Forza Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct, and Ryse: Son of Rome, Xbox One is mostly remembered for being a misfire at launch.

The launch lineup for Xbox One was a unique one, mostly for the fact that it blended traditional games with non-traditional ones that focused on motion-functionality, such as Zumba Fitness and Fighter Within. Introduced late into the 360’s lifespan, the Kinect was a big hit for the console, and Microsoft sought to put a more advanced version front and center with Xbox One. This meant that many of the games at Xbox One’s launch had Kinect functionality, and the motion-sensor was required to be active at all times during the early period of the console. While this presented an opportunity to play some third-party games with Kinect-exclusive features, they often felt forced in. Simply put, the Kinect was a necessary fixture in the launch experience of Xbox One–for better or worse.

Xbox One’s lineup had a greater ratio of exclusive games than PS4 when it comes to overall launch games, and it had a wide variety of gaming and non-gaming experiences that covered many bases for what consumers would expect. However, the quality of the games was hit or miss. The Kinect-focused games also saw the brunt of the criticisms, with games like Fighter Within becoming one of the most poorly reviewed first-party games in Xbox’s history. Due to Xbox One’s poor launch, Microsoft would spend a year revising the console, ditching the Kinect as a mandatory component, and placing its key focus on gaming. Today, the Xbox One has a much better image, but its launch and the poor lineup of games remains a sore spot in its history.

PlayStation 3: November 17, 2006

Resistance: Fall of Man, developed by Insomniac Games
Resistance: Fall of Man, developed by Insomniac 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
  • Tony Hawk’s Project 8
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
  • Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom

Following the enormous success of PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 seemed to be in good shape to continue with Sony’s domination of the console market. However, what was different from the previous gen was that Microsoft’s Xbox gained more market share as the original console gained popularity, which meant that many of Sony’s critical third-party games now showed up on the competing console as well. After an impressive debut in 2005, which showed games like Killzone 2, Final Fantasy XIII, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Sony touted its new Cell processor that would make the PS3 stand out as a major leap forward from its predecessor. However, PS3 would end up having a rough start for its first outing. This was due in part to the difficulty of developing games on this unorthodox hardware, along with a round of ongoing lawsuits related to the rumble tech from their previous controllers. While its lineup had a few games that stood out, such as Insomniac Games’ Resistance: Fall of Man, many of the games that fans hoped to see on the PS3 at launch were still several years away.

What helped cement the awkward start of the PS3 was the now infamous E3 2006 press conference. This event drew the ire of the internet community, which poked fun at PS3’s focus on motion-sensing controllers, and unintentionally humorous presentations for games like Ridge Racer and Genji: Days of the Blade, which were among the few first-party launch titles for PS3. The final kicker was the $599 price tag, a bitter pill to swallow for even the most dedicated Sony fans. Despite all this, the overall lineup of PS3’s launch was decent. In particular, Resistance and Call of Duty 3 would become popular online games, which Sony emphasized more for the next-gen. The PS3 also happened to be an affordable Blu-ray player as well, which took some of the sting out.

Much like the fate that befell Xbox One, Sony would have to spend nearly two years reinventing PS3’s image. This eventually happened when a revised controller with rumble functionality and a slate of AAA first-party games like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Metal Gear Solid 4, and inFamous were released towards the tail end of the decade. The PS3 would become a good system, but its average launch lineup and tough entry barrier made it a slow starter for fans.

Xbox 360: November 22, 2005

Perfect Dark Zero, developed by Rare LTD.
Perfect Dark Zero, developed by Rare LTD.

  • Amped 3
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • FIFA Soccer 06
  • GUN
  • Kameo: Elements of Power
  • Madden NFL 06
  • NBA 2K6
  • NBA Live 06
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  • NHL 2K6
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
  • Project Gotham Racing 3
  • Quake 4
  • Ridge Racer 6
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
  • Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland

Releasing a full year ahead of PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was a big success that featured a more robust lineup of big games than its predecessor. During the midpoint of the Xbox’s lifespan, it pushed more towards online gaming, and the 360 was online-enabled right out the gate. It also featured a set of games that were ready to be played on Xbox Live, which would become a significant selling point for several games from this generation.

Pitched as the most advanced gaming console of its time, it featured a lineup of first- and third-party games that pushed graphics in a big way, matching closely with several of the PC’s most visually stunning games. The 360’s launch saw a healthy amount of third-party releases, which stood alongside the first-party titles such as Kameo, Project Gotham Racing 3, and Amped 3. The one game that would define the 360’s launch was Perfect Dark Zero, a prequel to Rare’s N64 first-person shooter. Another FPS released with Perfect Dark Zero was Call of Duty 2, which was a console-exclusive for the Xbox 360. While both weren’t Halo 3, they would become popular launch titles that featured an active community of online players, with COD2 quickly becoming the most popular online game for the 360.

While the console itself would eventually be discovered to have some issues, which would continue to hound Microsoft and consumers for sometime after launch, the console’s solid starting lineup made it a popular choice for consumers looking to jump into the next generation of gaming.

PlayStation 2: October 22, 2000

Tekken Tag Tournament, developed by Bandai Namco
Tekken Tag Tournament, developed by Bandai Namco

  • Armored Core 2
  • Dead or Alive 2: 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: Scion of Sorcery
  • 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

Following up the original PlayStation was a monumental task, as the console would come to define much of what gamers would come to expect with gaming in the 3D era. However, PS1’s successor, the PlayStation 2, would be even more successful and would have the most well-rounded and diverse selection of games at launch for a Sony console–which still stands today. With a DVD player built-in, allowing owners of the console to watch films and TV shows on the booming media format, the launch of PlayStation 2 was an immediate success for a broad audience.

The original PlayStation had the lion’s share of third-party games, which often didn’t have releases on other competing machines like Nintendo 64 or Sega Dreamcast, and PS2 continued with that trend. The console had a wide array of third-party games like Madden NFL 2001, Dynasty Warrior 2, Midnight Club, Tekken Tag Tournament, and TimeSplitters, which made up for the lack of first-party games. Many of PS2’s launch games were continuations of series from the PS1. These franchises continuing on the new console went a long way in presenting consumers that not only was it truly next-gen, but many of their favorite games had also evolved with it.

PlayStation 2 also saw the release of Unreal Tournament, which was the first time that the popular PC release would find its way to a console. Due to its strong launch, PS2 maintained a strong hold of the gaming console market in the early 2000s until the release of its successor.

Xbox: November 15, 2001

Halo: Combat Evolved, developed by Bungie
Halo: Combat Evolved, developed by Bungie

  • 4×4 EVO 2
  • Air Force Delta Storm
  • Arctic Thunder
  • Cel Damage
  • Dark Summit
  • Dead or Alive 3
  • Fuzion Frenzy
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Mad Dash Racing
  • Madden NFL 2002
  • NASCAR Heat 2002
  • NASCAR Thunder 2002
  • NHL Hitz 20-02
  • Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee
  • Project Gotham Racing
  • Shrek
  • Test Drive Off-Road Wide Open
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X
  • TransWorld Surf

Microsoft had ambitious plans for its first gaming console. Serving as a direct competitor to both Nintendo and Sony, Microsoft’s Xbox had a distinct controller, a slate of games to play that had shiny visuals, and a cool name. The launch lineup was respectable, but as a debut for a brand-new console, it lacked a set of games that established it apart from other consoles, and it leaned heavily into established IPs or another round of sports titles. This resulted in something of a generic launch lineup.

But as history shows, Halo: Combat Evolved would end up becoming the killer-app for the original Xbox. Though the console would end up having a decent start, word of mouth generated by Halo’s take on the FPS, which was at the time the closest a console could get to an authentic PC experience, proved to be a massive boon for the console. Even going into its second year, Halo was still a system-seller. The game’s success wouldn’t let up until the launch of other exclusive Xbox games like Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which would help cement the console as a strong competitor in the market.

While games like Dead or Alive 3, Project Gotham Racing, Cel Damage were good launch titles, Halo: Combat Evolved was the game that truly defined the original Xbox, and even in the years since with its sequels, it would still be a game that is looked back on fondly. The release of the original Xbox still has had a lasting impact on its successor consoles, mostly because it is so reliant on original IPs to set it apart from the PlayStation. Halo’s importance in Microsoft’s history highlights how disappointing it is for the Xbox Series X to miss out on having a game like Halo Infinite to debut on the new system, which could have helped usher in the next-gen era for Xbox.

Closing

That ends our quick look back at the launch lineups from both PlayStation and Xbox’s past. Given the unprecedented period we’re in, the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X may feel a bit more tempered than previous launches. Because of the world’s changing state, we may also find out new releases of games much closer to the launch of the new consoles. It’s certainly a strange time to be releasing new console hardware, and there may be some more surprises in store for what we can expect on launch day for Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5.

For more on what’s to come with PS5 and Xbox Series X, be sure to check out our Generation Next hub, which focuses on all the latest news, features and videos focusing on the new era of gaming.

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