As a console selling over 80 million units throughout its life cycle, the PlayStation 3 left a large mark on history. It brought big-name franchises like Uncharted and The Last of Us to life, and it had some of the best third-party support you could find at the time. Plenty of the top PS3 games shared in the console’s massive success, reaching the hands of millions of consumers.
Though it’s to be expected, most of the top-selling PS3 games are console exclusives. That’s not to say all of them are, however; while the variety in third-party titles is not as vast as the original Xbox’s game sales, for example, it’s also not as restrictive as the Wii’s game sales. In other words, even if you never owned a PS3 before, you might have already played the number one game on this list.
The Gran Turismo series offers an in-depth look at cars and races, and Gran Turismo 6 was the final PS3 title to provide that to players. While the series is beloved by many, with a couple other titles in the franchise making it further in this list, this title had some issues holding it back from further success. Between the PS4 releasing just one month prior and a lack of major new additions, Gran Turismo 6 has found itself at the bottom of rankings for games across the series.
Even so, the numbers don’t lie. It wasn’t that Gran Turismo 6 was a bad game; rather, it wasn’t as good as fans were hoping. The game still featured impressive visuals and tight gameplay, and at its base it was still a Gran Turismo game. Even if it was a disappointment compared to the rest of the series, it managed to earn its spot in the top 10 best-selling PS3 games.
God of War III was, at the time, the end of the franchise’s story. Featuring Kratos on his journey to kill the gods of ancient Greece, the title built on previous entries in the series by providing new enemies and more techniques during battles. It wasn’t a particularly innovative game, but it didn’t need to be. The gameplay and graphical improvements were more than enough to make God of War III a classic for millions of PS3 owners.
While it wasn’t even a mainline title, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue provided players a preview of things to come in the Gran Turismo series. Not only did it let you race with more opponents at once, it was the first game in the series to fully feature online play. As a prologue, it had a minimal amount of overall content, and the pricing was steep for a title that some considered as little more than a demo. But its new features and additions seem to have impressed plenty of people, earning it a spot even higher than Gran Turismo 6 on this list.
Considering its placement as one of Metacritic’s best games of all time, it’s no wonder Batman: Arkham City made it onto this list, providing an action-packed superhero experience not many other titles can replicate. However, its placement on this list is circumstantial - the number of copies sold for the PS3 version only comes from a wikipedia page, and overall information on the sales of this title is scarce regardless. Yet the popularity of Arkham City - and the Arkham series as a whole - cannot be ignored, and it would be more shocking if this title didn’t deserve a spot somewhere on this list.
Metal Gear Solid 4 concludes the story of Solid Snake, featuring classic locations alongside new and returning foes as players battle through a war-torn world. Excitement for the title reached even outside of the PS3, with the protagonist being months before the release of this game. And as the first Metal Gear game to be released on the PlayStation 3, this title’s success was practically guaranteed, managing to reach around 6 million copies throughout its life.
While the original Uncharted doesn’t appear on this list, Uncharted 2 built upon its systems and story, reaching greater heights than ever. The game features Nathan Drake delving into temples and villages, fending off soldiers and inhuman beasts in order to recover a dangerous treasure. It was the first title in the franchise to feature multiplayer, as well, providing fans new ways to traverse through Nathan Drake’s world. It seems Uncharted is a series that only continued to improve over time, a fact made very apparent by the next game on this list.
Released two years after its predecessor, Uncharted 3 featured a new story and new locations for Nathan Drake’s fans to delve into. New abilities like melee combat were introduced, and the multiplayer from Uncharted 2 was expanded upon. Marketing behind the title was plentiful - there was even a promotion tie-in with Subway to net players free in-game items. It might sound like an odd choice for marketing, but it paid off in the end, with Uncharted 3 barely beating out its predecessor’s sales numbers.
The number here might be accurate for the PS3 release, but The Last of Us actually sold a total of 17 million copies when combining PS4 sales as well. Featuring characters Joel and Ellie travelling through the US during a zombie apocalypse, the title puts a heavy emphasis on story and character development. This emphasis was well-received by players, and that praise helped make The Last of Us into one of the best-selling games of all time.
Perhaps thanks to the success of its prologue, Gran Turismo 5 released to highly favorable reviews. Between online support, new models for damaged cars, and a dynamic weather system, Gran Turismo 5 brought impressive additions never before seen by the series. It still might not be as well-received as its predecessors, but it was beloved by many, and it secures its spot as the best-selling PS3 exclusive game of all time.
The top PS3 game of all time, however, isn’t exclusive by any definition. Grand Theft Auto V has seen numerous re-releases and extensions to further platforms; currently, it has sold over 150 million copies total. Around 30 million of that comes from the PS3 version, having released over a year before PS4 and PC versions of Grand Theft Auto V made it to store shelves. That extra time most certainly secured this game’s spot at the top of the PS3 charts - it is Grand Theft Auto, after all.
Many of the exclusive games on this list have been re-released on the PS4 in some way, with the exception of the Gran Turismo titles. Considering the massive success these games have, and Sony’s insistence on a lack of backwards compatibility, it’s nice that fans of these titles still have the chance to go back and play them. It’s interesting to see the success Sony found with the PlayStation 3, as well as the influence of that success on its newer consoles.