The ability to land high-profile exclusive games can often be a deciding factor when Sony and Microsoft engage in console wars. The Xbox 360 became known as a haven for hardcore gamers by championing Halo and Gears of War, allowing it to sneak ahead of the PS3. Yet Sony battled back in style and vanquished the Xbox One in the current generation thanks to titles like Uncharted 4 and God of War. These are the 10 greatest exclusives from the past two decades, featuring five Xbox titles and five PlayStation games:
God of War
Sony Interactive Entertainment released God of War to huge critical acclaim in 2018 and it went on to win Game of the Year and the prestigious Game Awards. It boasts a 94% rating on Metacritic and fans went wild for its narrative, world design, art direction, graphics, characters, score and combat system. It was also praised for staying true to the core tenets of the series, which began all the way back in 2005 on the PS2, while successfully rebooting it. It sold more than 5 million copies within a month of release and 10 million in the first year, making it one of the best performing games on the PS4.
The Halo series has been the jewel in Microsoft’s crown, grossing $3.5 billion and shifting an impressive 65 million units. The series peaked with the release of Halo 3 in 2007. It sold 14.5 million copies, making it the bestselling Halo game, and it also received universally positive reviews. “An Xbox 360 without a copy of the game is like a human without a heart,” said one reviewer.
The first-person shooter wrapped up the narrative arc begun in the initial 2001 release, focusing on the interstellar war between 26th-century humanity and the alien Covenant races. It was the bestselling game of 2007 and it sparked a thriving competitive scene, as detailed at Unikrn. Gamers loved it, and the series has never quite managed to hit those heights again. The next installment in the series will be the launch title for the next-gen Xbox Scarlett, so it will be intriguing to see how it fares.
Gran Turismo 3
The third installment of the popular PlayStation racing sim is widely regarded as the best of the bunch. Some have described it as the franchise’s Empire Strikes Back. Since the series’ debut in 1997, more 80 million units have been sold worldwide for the PlayStation, PS2, PS3, PS4 and PlayStation Portable, making it the bestselling franchise under the PlayStation brand. Gran Turismo 3 shifted the most copies – 14.9 million in total – and fans still get nostalgic when thinking about it.
Forza Motorsport 3
The Forza series is Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turismo and it has made the developer more than $1 billion in revenue. It also continues the trend of a series hitting its lowest-point with the third installment. Forza Motorsport 3 is the most critically acclaimed game in the sequence and it also generated the most sales, breaking through the 2.5 million barriers. A special shout out for Forza Horizon 4 too, as the 2018 release is absolutely superb.
Naughty Dog’s third-person shooter has won legions of admirers since Drake’s Fortune hit shelves back in 2007. It has shipped more than 40 million units, making it one of the bestselling video game franchises in history, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has led the charge. It has sold more than 15 million copies, making it the bestselling PS4 game, and it won a clutch of Game of the Year awards after its release in 2016. Its stunning gameplay, narrative depth, superb visuals and multiplayer modes have seen it bask in praise, and it is one of the key reasons why Sony has won the current generation of console wars.
Gears of War 2
Long before it was taking over the world with Fortnite, Epic Games was dazzling the sector with its superb Gears of War series. It began following the adventures of Marcus Fenix in 2006 and the sequel was released in 2008. On its release weekend, Gears of War 2 sold more than 2 million copies, and within two months of release, had sold 4 million units. Gears of War laid strong foundations and Epic lived up to its ambition to create a “bigger, badder, more badass” sequel. The storyline evolved into the loveable foursome, the chainsaw duels were sensational, the narrative was strong and the Intestinal Fortitude level was particularly memorable.
The Last of Us
This horror survival title from Naughty Dog is an absolute classic, widely considered to be among the greatest video games ever made. It was released to immense acclaim in 2013 and then re-mastered for the PS4 the following year, selling almost 20 million units in total. It focuses on a smuggler called Joel who escorts teenager Ellie across a post-apocalyptic United States, using firearms, blades and stealth to fend off cannibals and enemies in a series of gorgeous locations. The Last of Us 2 is among the most eagerly anticipated games of all time.
The original BioShock is one of the greatest Xbox exclusives of all time thanks to its claustrophobic atmosphere, gripping storyline and enjoyable combat. It oozes style and delves into philosophy and politics, while maintaining a compelling narrative. It was released in 2007 and quickly shipped more than 2 million copies. The sequels could never live up to the success of the original game, which still holds a place in the hearts of many gamers.
Sony pulled off a magnificent coup by landing exclusivity rights for the excellent Marvel’s Spider-Man, which is probably the best superhero game ever made. The web-swinging traversal mechanics make for heaps of fun, while the speed and fluidity of the combat makes this game stand head and shoulders above its peers. It enjoyed strong reviews upon its September 2018 release, and it has already shifted 13.2 million units in its first year on the market. It won Best Console Game at the Game Critics’ Awards and Best PS4 Game at Gamescom 2018.
Kinect Adventures is the bestselling exclusive game on either the Xbox or the PlayStation. It was released on the Xbox360 in 2010, featuring a collection of five adventure and sports minigames. It received mixed reviews, but you cannot argue with its commercial performance, as Kinect Adventures sold 24 million copies. That makes it the bestselling non-Nintendo console exclusive game of all time.