Yes - The best for a playground, in my opinion, is the larger pieces. Normal mulch is pretty dirty, so is the shredded tire stuff. There was a guy near me who used to show it on his website but its not there anymore. It looks like hunks of wood, no small pieces at all. We did a church playground with many hundred cubic yards of the stuff and it lasted for years.
Grass or dirt is what we had (and probably you) when I was a kid and we survived.