I think you have said it best because they are very productive and spiderman just is so adored by everybody that it really gives them a big edge.I agree. I've heard this talk quite a lot and it doesn't seem accurate to me.
They're definitely Sony's most *productive* studio - it seems like they basically have 3 AAA teams now, and almost certainly put out a game at least once every 18 months.
And all their output is solid, no doubt. But as far as I can see, they've never once put out a game as good as Uncharted 2, say, or God of War.
Naughty Dog releases games of that quality consistently, as do Santa Monica. They're the 2 best studios, and Naughty Dog is probably the best because they've built two stellar franchises and SSM just the one so far.
I'd put Insomniac as the third most important. Then Guerrilla, then Sucker Punch. After that there's a drop off in quality and/or significance.
My first impression of Naughty Dog was years ago at Target seeing a demo of Uncharted drakes fortune. I was blown away by the presentation of visual quality but I didn't fall in love with them until Uncharted 2 which for a long time after it came out was top dog for graphics and made even PC players jealous and it was done on the very difficult to code for ps3.
I never was a big insomniac fan and even after spiderman released to huge acclaim in 2018 I didn't get around to playing it until a year or more after release. I remember constantly rolling my eyes at all the pics gamers were showing of the in game photo mode and eventually I thought why not try it.
I fell in love with the graphics and the fluid combat after being a big fan of the batman games of rocksteady.
Still I feel though that although there output is tremendous its mostly riding off the back of spiderman 2018. Miles morales was good but frankly outside of being a visual showcase for the launch of ps5 not that great or memorable for me at least.
Yet time and again I've been blown away by Naughty Dog. Uncharted 1,2,3,4 and both last of us titles have been a true joy to experience.