It’s no secret that the fourth quarter of any year is enormously important for any company that makes things you can give as gifts — including video game consoles. Each year, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo try to do everything they can to make holiday shoppers choose their system over the competition. But ever since the launch of the PlayStation 4, Sony has been doing a terrible job at this. It seems the company just can’t manage to deliver the big PlayStation 4 exclusive games it wants out on the market in time for the holidays.
This year is shaping up no differently. Once again, PlayStation 4 gamers won’t be getting a killer lineup of exclusive games. To shed some light on this problem, let’s take a look at the PS4 exclusives that have come out during the holiday shopping season each year since the PlayStation 4 first launched.
2013 PS4 holiday exclusives
The PlayStation 4 first hit the shelves of U.S. stores on November 15, 2013. Since most video game consoles take awhile to build up a solid library of exclusive games, let’s not be too harsh with the PS4 for a weak launch lineup.
But it was a weak launch lineup. Here are the biggest first-party PS4 games that came out in fall 2013.
Killzone: Shadow Fall
This deeply average shooter looked great, but that was simply because it could take advantage of the PS4’s then-novel graphical horsepower. Unfortunately, it played like any other uninspired shooter, earning it a less-than-stellar 73 on Metacritic.
In trailers, Knack looked like a delightful action game that would make for a perfect introduction to anyone’s shiny new PS4. In reality, it’s a dull game about punching a seemingly endless supply of enemies as you trudge down boring corridors. New PS4 owners deserved better.
2014 PS4 holiday exclusives
The second year a gaming console is on the market is a big one. It was time for the PS4 to sink or swim, as the gaming public had to decide whether or not to put faith in the hardware. Here’s the lackluster lineup Sony offered PS4 owners in the fall of 2014.
A perfectly serviceable racing game, Driveclub would have been a fantastic addition to any PS4 owner’s library — if only the multiplayer worked properly. Instead, Sony’s servers crumbled under the weight, leaving players locked offline in their own lonely worlds.
To compound the issue, Sony had promised a limited free version of Driveclub to all PlayStation Plus members. It was supposed to launch alongside the paid version, but thanks to the server issues, the free version was postponed for almost a year. Not the best rollout for a high-profile PS4 exclusive.
This platformer isn’t awful, but it’s no system seller. The floaty physics and dreary brown color scheme work to sap the fun out of the platforming, while the sub-par design tools do the same for the level-building mode. If you want to design and play awesome platforming levels, try Super Mario Maker. Leave Sackboy out of it.
2015 PS4 holiday exclusives
Last year, just about every PlayStation 4 gamer had been looking forward to playing Uncharted 4, the concluding chapter in the Nathan Drake saga. There’s no doubt millions of PS4 owners would have shelled out big bucks to play it or buy it as a gift.
Too bad for them, because Uncharted 4 didn’t end up coming out until May the following year. What major PS4 exclusive games did come out in fall 2015?
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Is this a fine collection of games? Most definitely. But it hardly even counts as a PS4 exclusive, seeing as it’s just a remastered collection of three PlayStation 3 games.
While it is a first-party game, Tearaway Unfolded is just an upscaled and lightly touched-up version of Tearaway, a PS Vita exclusive. It’s definitely not the kind of game that comes to mind when you think about major PS4 exclusives.
2016 PS4 holiday exclusives
Which leads us to this year, and yet another fourth quarter that’s sure to disappoint anyone looking for an amazing PS4-only game to play. While we had all been looking forward to the amazing-looking game Horizon: Zero Dawn, it’s been pushed back into early 2017.
Sony had also promised PS4 owners that we’d get Gravity Rush Remastered this fall, but even that relatively weak exclusive got pushed back to next year. So what do we have to look forward to in the coming months?
The Last Guardian
Thanks to its cult classic predecessors, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian is a fairly high-profile exclusive. But to be excited about it, you probably have to be in the minority of PS4 owners who played either of those games in years past. Also, thanks to its obviously troubled decade-long development cycle, there’s plenty of reason to think it will be a disappointing game.
The one truly exciting piece of tech Sony has in store for PS4 owners this fall is PlayStation VR. By all reports, this headset is comfortable to wear and truly makes you feel transported into the world of whatever game you’re playing. Unfortunately, the PSVR bundle that comes with everything you need to play VR games costs $500 and only comes with a single game. Even if it is earth-shattering gaming equipment, you need a lot of expendable income to try it.
PS4 does have good exclusives
By focusing solely on fall exclusives, we’ve been a little unfair to Sony and PlayStation 4 as a whole. The PlayStation 4 does have plenty of amazing exclusive games. The problem is that they never seem to come out during the holiday season, when massive numbers of people are buying new game consoles.
If Microsoft and Nintendo hadn’t handed the console market to Sony by making major mistakes with their competing hardware, it might have hit Sony in its bottom line. Luckily for Sony, Microsoft alienated gamers with its initial Xbox One pitch, and Nintendo created a console that appealed to very few people with the Wii U. Sony almost won by default.
We’ll have plenty to play
If this article has bummed you out about your gaming prospects in fall 2016, you actually have nothing to worry about. Tons of major releases are coming out this fall — they just don’t happen to be PS4 exclusives. From the usual Call of Duty and Battlefield games to Titanfall 2, Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2 and Final Fantasy XV, you’ll have plenty of options at your disposal. In fact, here’s a full list of the games still ahead in 2016.
The PS4 exclusives coming after 2016 are looking fine as well, including games like God of War and Days Gone. But based on what we’ve seen so far from Sony, don’t expect to play them on their original launch dates, or in the fall of any year in the future.