At least until the advent of smartphones, the only real competitor for Nintendo’s handheld dominance came in the form of Sony and their PSP consoles.
And what a device the PSP was! Sony’s PlayStation Portable arrived at the end of 2004 in Japan, followed by launches a few months later worldwide – and its sleek design, beautiful screen and impressive audiovisual capabilities made it truly stand out as a piece of technology that felt a lot more grown-up than Nintendo’s more kid-friendly consoles.
Though the DS outsold the PSP, Sony’s handheld racked up more than 80 million sales in its lifetime – a truly impressive feat. Part of the reason for its success was an incredibly strong software library, with games that easily held their own against the quality of games found on home consoles.
Just take a look at our Best PSP Games list to see the depth and breadth of quality titles on the console – it’s a phenomenal list with titles that no gamer should miss out on. Which ones actually sold the best though? Let’s find out, as we take a look at the 10 Best Selling PSP Games of all time!
10. Daxter (2006)
Originally created by Naughty Dog – whose games make several appearances on the Best Selling PS3 Games list – the Jak & Daxter games have been hugely popular ever since the first game was released in 2001.
The games have always been great 3D platformers with run-and-gun elements and bags of character – especially when it came to the interplay between elf-like human Jak and his ottsel (a hybrid of otter and weasel) companion Daxter.
This original PSP game – as is clear from the title – focuses entirely on the latter character, however, with Daxter searching for his companion.
Jak was imprisoned during a period that’s largely skipped over at the opening of PS2 game Jak II – leaving the story wide open for Daxter’s solo PSP title to fill.
With 2.3 million units sold, it’s clear that the missing Jak didn’t affect the popularity of this pseudo-spin off title, which is widely regarded as one of the PSP’s best games.
9. Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (2007)
Capcom’s Monster Hunter series has been a genuine phenomenon, selling 78 million units across all titles since the first game was released on the PS2 back in 2004.
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 was the first original handheld title in the series; Capcom adapted PS2 title Monster Hunter 2 to bring PSP gamers a new campaign and plenty of new content.
Importantly, ad-hoc multiplayer meant that teaming up with friends brought the game an accessible social aspect that was more difficult to achieve on the PS2 at the time.
The ability to download even more content and quests meant that Monster Hunter Freedom 2 had great longevity too; no wonder it went on to sell 2.4 million copies on the PSP.
8. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007)
The PS1’s Final Fantasy VII was a title that brought JRPGs to a new level of mainstream awareness and popularity; it’s a game that’s also highly regarded as one of the best JRPGs of all time.
Crisis Core is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, beginning a few years prior to the events of the PS1 game and ending just before VII’s story kicks off.
Though Square Enix faced a daunting task in following up Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core didn’t disappoint – it’s regarded as one of the best prequels of all time and we even chose it to be at the very top of our Best PSP RPGs list – it’s that good!
With 3.1 million copies sold on the PSP, it’s clear that owners of Sony’s handheld couldn’t get enough of this new addition to Final Fantasy VII’s backstory either.
7. God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008)
The God of War games have always been big on their cinematic, third-person hack and slash action, as well as containing gargantuan beasts for players – embodying Kratos – to destroy.
Could that sense of scale and satisfyingly huge action translate to the smaller confines of a handheld console though?
The answer, of course, is a definite ‘Yes’. Gamers were treated to an adventure that felt every bit as epic, cinematic and action-packed as its big brothers on the PS2.
One of the key factors which always made the PSP so appealing was the fact that many franchises reached the handheld feeling completely intact with nothing cut out in comparison to fully-fledged console games – and God of War: Chains of Olympus is another great example of that.
The game was a critical and commercial smash, which is a great testament to its quality – selling 3.2 million units on the PlayStation Portable.
6. Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (2007)
Jak & Daxter don’t have the monopoly on PlayStation-based, buddy comedy, third person action adventures – there’s another dynamic duo that are very familiar to long-term Sony console fans: Ratchet & Clank.
The series feature feline humanoid Ratchet and his robot companion Clank, with one of the key trademarks of their intergalactic adventures being the ridiculously over-the-top weapons and gadgets available to players.
Several of the best Ratchet and Clank games have cheeky, innuendo-laced subtitles – such as Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal; Size Matters is, of course, no different in that regard. Cleverly though, it also refers to the fact that this was the first portable Ratchet & Clank adventure.
Despite the reference to the game making it to the small screen, it did also arrive on the PS2 a year later; with that version omitted the portable original’s multiplayer options, the PSP original is still the best one to get hold of.
3.73 million copies were sold of the PSP version, setting it comfortably near the middle of the Best Selling PSP Games list!
5. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (2009)
Another Monster Hunter title makes it into the Best Selling PSP Games list, which really goes to show just how popular the series is.
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite made it onto our Best Multiplayer PSP Games list – and with very good reason.
It’s possible to play through the entire game with up to four players taking part simultaneously – which means that more than 500 hours of monster hunting can be played co-operatively!
There’s doubt that this was just one aspect of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite that led to its enormous commercial success; with 3.8 million units sold, it wasn’t just one of the best PSP games or best multiplayer PSP games – Monster Hunter Freedom Unite was one of the best reasons to own a PSP altogether.
Though many online features have long since been disabled on PSP games – with servers and other support being turned off years ago – the local (or ‘Ad Hoc’, as it’s known on PSP) multiplayer options for Monster Hunter Freedom Unite still work to this day, so it’s a game that’s still worth picking up and playing with your PSP owning friends.
4. Gran Turismo (2009)
Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo series has always set a high bar for realism, as well as being known to push its host hardware to the absolute limit.
So it’s no surprise to see the handheld version of Gran Turismo achieving those aims and surpassing even the highest of expectations; with the game running at 60 frames per second, an incredible 800+ vehicles on offer and 45 tracks (a number that increases to 72 if you include the reverse layouts available on many tracks), the move to the PSP certainly didn’t result in a big reduction in the game’s content.
Though Gran Turismo on the PSP did get a bit of criticism for not featuring a traditional career mode – and it lacked options for upgrading cars – PSP owners couldn’t get enough of the handheld version of the Real Driving Simulator, with an incredibly impressive 4.22 million copies sold.
It’s also one of our best PSP racing games of all time, so you know it’s going to be good!
3. Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (2010)
Well here we are, nearing the very top of the Best Selling PSP games list – and we’ve got yet another Monster Hunter title!
Just as Monster Hunter Freedom 2 adapted and significantly expanded upon the content of Monster Hunter 2, Monster Hunter Portable 3rd does the same with Monster Hunter Tri – which was originally a Wii game!
The roles and abilities of Felynes – bipedal, cat-like creature companions for the player – were expanded here, making hunts a bit more forgiving.
Monster Hunter Portable 3rd built upon the success of its predecessors and was even bigger in terms of sales, reaching an amazing 4.9 million units sold worldwide – placing it comfortably in the top three best selling PSP games of all time!
2. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006)
Before Grand Theft Auto V’s release in 2013, Rockstar certainly weren’t a developer who rested on their laurels; though GTA V seems to be endlessly recycled and lightly remastered across numerous generations, when the time came to bring the GTA series to the PSP, Rockstar created entirely new games – with the ‘Stories’ spin-off titles.
Though set in the city and era familiar to players of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, this PSP title actually outdoes its big brother in a number of ways.
Combat was refined, swimming – which was originally introduced in GTA: San Andreas – was added and even the ability to own property was significantly expanded with the addition of ‘empire-building’ features.
Another edge that Vice City Stories had over the original Vice City was the addition of significant multiplayer options, which were incredibly addictive and a great precursor to the currently popular GTA Online.
Lastly, Vice City Stories came with its own licensed 80s soundtrack, full of a wide variety of era-specific classics – which was another superb touch for this stunning handheld Grand Theft Auto title. Small wonder that this game sold 5.03 million copies – placing it right near the very top of the Best Selling PSP Games list.
1. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005)
Despite how much of a deserved success Vice City Stories was, even that title – arguably the finest of the PSP Grand Theft Auto games – couldn’t hope to match the sales success of its predecessor.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories sold an absolutely jaw-dropping 8 million units, with other PSP games not even coming close; even Vice City Stories, in second place right here on this list, sold close to 3 million units less than this game.
Much like Vice City Stories, Liberty City Stories takes players back to a familiar setting – in this case, the city featured in iconic, game-changing title Grand Theft Auto III – but with an entirely new story, with new features and even a new soundtrack.
Set in Liberty City in 1998 – a few years prior to the 2001 setting of Grand Theft Auto III – the environment here features a number of notable changes from the city in the original game, with many of the differences cleverly explained through the story of Liberty City Stories.
Though lacking in some features that would make Vice City Stories an arguably stronger handheld Grand Theft Auto – no swimming in Liberty City, sadly – with this being the first handheld title in the series, it was an undeniable commercial smash hit that left all other PSP games in its (probably stolen!) rear view mirror.
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.