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Debates: Final Review

Last month’s debates are over, but I would like to review them. This time, these debates are summarized, going little over the big picture on each issue. There’s also a review on what opinions I have made at the verdict are the strongest or the weakest.

If you never read the debates, you should see what I did there. Every week, I picked two sides (except for the last week, which I picked three) and explained the strengths and weaknesses of each side. In the first three debates, there were nine issues, four that supported one side, four that supported the opponent, and a tiebreaker issue. And then at the end, I went over a verdict on what side I would support, based on the issues or not. The last one is similar, but there were 13 issues. Each of the three sides had four wins, four losses, and four middle-placed. There was a tiebreaker issue as well.

Debate #1 – Handhelds vs Consoles

The debate series began all the way back on the first Tuesday of last November, and it started with the first subject – handhelds and consoles. It compared the two types of gaming systems and what are their advantages and disadvantages.

The first two issues of this debate talked about the limits of location and power supply for each system. According to these issues, handheld gaming devices like the 3DS can be played anywhere (car, hotel, restaurant etc) at any time while video game consoles like the Nintendo 64 can only be played at a single TV in only one room, plugged in at all times. However, limited location isn’t the only limit of the two systems. Power source is another limit. Handhelds, as long as they’re free from the wall, the battery is the limit of how long you can play handheld games. If your battery is low or even dead, you will need to charge your handheld by plugging it into the charger that is plugged into the wall. As for consoles, as long as they’re unplugged, they are powerless. And if they are plugged in, they can be on as long as you want, since power is unlimited. However, what I’ve learned from someone is that the reason why handhelds would win the portability issue is because they’re designed to be that way, as consoles aren’t.

The next two issues are about trading and game size. In terms of the trading issue, both handhelds and consoles can connect online pretty easily as trading and interactive play works both ways. However, the reason why I picked handhelds to win this battle is because I was used to playing Animal Crossing. There are many reasons why Pokémon and Animal Crossing are better for handhelds than consoles, but the reason why I made trading a handheld advantage is because you don’t have to play with online strangers if you want to trade wirelessly. Consoles, on the other hand, do. For the other issue, it’s true that consoles always had bigger games than handhelds. My reasoning is because of the disc format on consoles and cartridge format on handhelds, as discs are capable of holding more memory than cartridges. And I’m right, but there’s another issue that made console games bigger than handheld games. Do you know why there are no Super Mario 3D platformers or remakes of 3D Zelda games like Wind Waker on the 3DS? It’s because consoles have more powerful hardware, which makes them capable of playing these games. This also explains why Wild World and New Leaf have smaller maps than City Folk and the GameCube version’s. Don’t forget that more powerful hardware can inhibit battery life.

The fifth issue best describes what’s better between handhelds and consoles. It may not be the portability or powerful hardware that chooses what’s better, but they types of games is the biggest matter. Simple and relaxing games are best for handhelds as complex and cinematic games are best for consoles. The problems with playing mismatched games would ruin your experience. First-person shooters, adventure, 3D platformers, tycoon games, and sports games are examples of what’s better for consoles. When played on a handheld, it wouldn’t be as fun, especially with the limited controls. Puzzles, RPGs, life simulation games, arcade games, and touch games are examples of what’s better for handhelds. When played on the console, they would be fun, but you would think that they wouldn’t make good console games at all. As for franchises, it’s true that Animal Crossing is not as suitable for consoles as they are for handhelds. Those type of games are games that require playing everyday, any location, and ability to visit other towns wirelessly. Those can be done with the DS or 3DS since you can bring them anywhere, connect locally and wirelessly, and be played without sharing your towns. Games like Little Big Planet do a lot better at consoles because building levels will require spending a lot of time and focus, which is not easy to do with handheld games.

The other four issues were about the other advantages and disadvantages of handhelds and consoles. It appears to be more financially practical to buy one 3DS per family member than it is to buy as many consoles of the same kind. Not only consoles are more expensive, but they require being hooked up to a TV. It’s also non-traditional and a bad idea to have TVs in bedrooms, meaning that they can only be played in specific rooms. If you can have only one TV, there can only be one console. Having more than one child if you’re the parent (or sibling if you are the child) can lead to fighting. Kids that like video games that are forced to share would fight over video games. Not to mention, but if one wants to play alone without anybody watching them, they would fight over the room. Family rooms like the living room, recreational room, den, game room, or wherever you want the main television cannot be fought over since everybody have to share, even if they don’t like being watched. Bedrooms, on the other hand, don’t have to be shared, but it depends on how many bedrooms there are and how many kids there are. If kids have their own handheld systems, there would be no fights over turns, ownership, or watching. And if one likes to play alone, they can go to another room without having the other watch them. But for the other two issues (multiplayer and screen size), there’s no doubt that consoles would be more superior than handhelds in. It’s better to sit as far back as possible from bright screens. Handhelds require looking up close to their personal small screens as you can sit far back and see a bigger screen in perspective to console games. Screen size of TVs is not the only reason why consoles are better than handhelds in terms of resolution and distance, but also if you want to play multiplayer games. Connectivity with handhelds on multiplayer games makes them harder than the console games.

At the end, I admitted that consoles had a better library than handhelds, but the idea of portability, privacy, and ownership is what made handhelds better than consoles. As a person who likes traveling, I made handhelds win this debate.

Debate #2 – Discs vs Cartridges

The next debate is the type of physical copies of games between video game discs and video game cartridges. Most modern video games come in discs. Early games in the cartridge format. You may think it doesn’t matter what format you take, but there are major differences between the two and how they affect the system.

The first half of the debate was about the stronger points of the two physical copy types. The issues are data size, production cost, durability of the handheld or console, and loading times. In recent times, discs have been proven to be better than cartridges because they are a lot easier and cheaper to make than cartridges. But there’s more than just price. Due to the size limitations at the time, discs held more memory than cartridges, proving that cartridges are not as cost effective as discs. Therefore, all future consoles stuck with the disc format and never returned. Even I would spend less to get more out of one thing than spend a lot to get little. However, in recent times, there are several cases of system failures after a few years of continued usage, most common cases being the Red Ring of Death (Xbox 360) and the Yellow Light of Death (PlayStation 3). At the same time, some of the older consoles that came out no later than 1997 (such as the NES) still work today. The problem here is that disc players tend to stop working after a few years of continued usage, especially Blu-Ray discs like we use today since they use a lot more energy. Cartridge players, with less moving parts and machine energy used, can still be played for even longer (three decades minimum) before they ultimately break down. Another advantage of cartridge players is that games load faster than games played on disc players. However, there’s a drag between both systems. The more data there is to process and use, the longer the loading times are. But it takes longer for an 800 MB disc to load than an 8 GB cartridge to load. The reason: cartridge players don’t use moving parts. They read the whole unit at once. So disc production appears to be more cost effective, but cartridge players read faster and last longer.

The fifth issue is rather unnecessary, but I added it for amusement. Cartridges are smaller than discs, so they don’t take up as much space. But in game cases, there’s a lot more wasted space from cartridges than discs.

The second half of the debate was about the weaker points that prove which one is better. Two of them appear to contradict their main advantages. Discs are easier cheaper to mass produce, but are also more open to piracy for that reason. Cartridges are harder to make than discs, making them more immune to piracy. The main advantage of cartridges is that the players tend to last longer based on usage. Cartridges are exposed to live wires as they read the information. A static discharge can burn both the cartridge and the player. Disc players (especially blu-ray players) stop working after a few years, but a faulty disc won’t cause any problems to the player. It only hurts the disc. The other two issues were on their resistance. Discs are a lot easier to damage physically since they are weaker, but cartridges are much easier to damage digitally. A small scratch or stain can ruin all data stored when being read by the player.

In my verdict, I confirmed that cartridges are better than discs for the main reason of durability of the systems. I also picked cartridges because my favorite games were on the Nintendo 64 and 3DS, two of the systems that used the cartridge format.

Debate #3 – Physical vs Digital Copies

The next debate was about the two ways of buying and playing video games. As we’re in the digital age, some people prefer buying games and movies digitally. It saves real world space and adds towards a digital collection. But others prefer getting games physically. It adds to the collection of video games on the shelves.

The first four issues were about the advantages of getting games digitally and disadvantages of getting games physically. When you want to purchase a game, digital copies are always available as long as they are in stores while physical copies can be sold out at times. Also, if your system gets damaged as you have to replace it with a new system, you can re-download the game without purchasing another. For physical copies, once a copy of a video game is damaged, you will have to spend more money on another copy. If they are out of print, you will be forced to buy on eBay or Amazon, or you will never play the game again. Even ownership of physical games over digital games without losing copies can be problematic. The more games you buy, the less space you have on your shelves. Getting games digitally doesn’t take up real space. The other advantage of getting games digitally is that you will have an easier time switching between games on the digital version. There’s no need to turn off a console, or remove disc and place a new disc. It’s like selecting apps on an iPhone.

In between the first four and last four issues, I threw in an issue about quality. No matter how you buy a game, the quality will always be the same. This includes graphics, gameplay, glitches, and other parts that built the game.

The last four issues were about the advantages of getting games physically and disadvantages of getting games digitally. Digital copies may be in stores without selling out, but once you purchase a game, you can never sell it back. For physical copies, you can sell them back if you didn’t like them, as long as you have the receipt. Lost copies can be replaced digitally easily, but you don’t really own them anymore unless if you have them downloaded. Once they are pulled from the store, it will disappear from both the shop and your purchases. Physical copies can’t be taken back by the developer once you buy them. You may have more physical space saved if you buy a game digitally, but a lot of digital space is used if you buy them digitally. HD games use a lot of data (over 2000 MB). Physical games are just as big in data size, but digital games must be downloaded onto the console or handheld. Physical copies are just in discs or cartridges. Because of the data size limitations, you can only own a few games. The other issue is on download times. Physical games don’t need to be installed, and if they do, you don’t need to worry about internet connection. Digital games can take a while to install. The larger a game is, and/or the poorer the internet connection is, the slower the download process takes.

In the verdict, the decision was tough, but the ownership issue and data size issue lead to the win for the physical copies.

Debate #4 – Nintendo vs Sony vs Microsoft

The last debate was not on different types of games based on copies or players, but rather the three gaming companies. The three main competitors in the gaming industry are Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. Each of them have their own consoles, exclusives, and other services.

The first three issues were about the number of exclusives and third-party games in their libraries. Based on the issues, we clearly know that Nintendo and Sony have a lot of exclusive franchises while Microsoft’s exclusive library is not very big, Nintendo’s and Microsoft’s exclusive franchises were able to live ten years or longer without going downhill while Sony’s franchises don’t last as long, and Sony and Microsoft tend to be more friendly towards third party developers while Nintendo still has a poor third-party support. To look at each side on all three of them, Nintendo tends to have a lot of exclusive franchises that have a lot of charm, but seems to lack third-party games. Sony has a lot more franchises, exclusive or not, but aren’t long-lasting. Microsoft has a small library of exclusives, but they do have a large third-party library as each of the franchises last a while.

The tie issue was more about the fanbases. No matter what system you pick, there will always be radical fans and radical haters. You can say that the Nintendo fans are more mature while Sony fans and Microsoft fans are quite immature. Even if it’s true, Nintendo still had a lot of obsessive fans that take gaming too seriously. And there are a couple of mature Sony and Microsoft fans. In fact, an interesting fact about Microsoft fans is that 51% of the Xbox subscribers have children.

The next three issues were all about experience. Nintendo has been in the gaming industry a lot longer than Sony or Microsoft, so they seem to know a lot more about their products. They do have more durable consoles, including Blu-ray players like the Wii U. They have better customer service when you need to contact them. However, they are generations behind in terms of online services. Microsoft is right at the level iTunes and Google Play are in terms of shop. Same with the PSN. Nintendo doesn’t seem to be there. And they don’t have an achievement system. The moderation system online and security isn’t the best either. Their games are hit the hardest by cheaters while their online communities have a draconian moderation system. Sony is in middle grounds in terms of experience, whether you talk about their experience in the gaming industry or their experience with online services. As for the online moderation and security, they are at the worst. They have been more prone to hacking (especially in 2011 and 2014), and the online communities have weak moderation systems. Microsoft, despite having the poorest experience in the gaming industry, has the best experience in online gaming and services. They are better with moderation, security, shops, accounts, and several other online services.

The three issues after that were on system design and innovation. It’s obvious that Nintendo is the most innovative of the three. As they invent new gaming concepts, such as combat racing games, crossover fights, and party games, they also have irregular consoles. Their controllers have differed at every console while Sony and Microsoft kept the same design without making any improvements. Their consoles are more regular. When I went over controller design, Sony wins both the best controller design and best exercise controller. I thought Sony’s controllers had the correct placement of buttons, bumpers, and joysticks as I liked their shape buttons (like the circle button on the right and square button on the left). The Xbox controllers have a weird placement of analog sticks and buttons the whole time. And Nintendo’s controllers continue to change. The worst two are the Nintendo 64 controller and GameCube controller. The 64 controller has three prongs and camera buttons rather than sticks while the GameCube controller had a similar layout to an Xbox controller but with one missing bumper and a strange button layout on the right side. About the exercise controllers, I picked Sony as the winner. The PlayStation Move looked a lot better and had better buttons than the Wii mote. The Kinect is plain stupid.

The last three issues is about how much they can satisfy gamers. Nintendo appears to be good with backwards compatibility since their consoles and handhelds were designed that way. Plus, they have their Virtual Console, where they can play their older games. Sony and Microsoft aren’t as caring for backwards compatibility. In terms of game releases, Nintendo releases a lot of remakes and spin-offs rather than new games. Even if they do release new games, gamers are still ungrateful with what Nintendo gives them (like Splatoon is too easy, Xenoblade Chronicles X was censored etc). Sony and Microsoft tend to do a better job at satisfaction of video game releases. On the sales part, Nintendo may have the highest selling system in the 7th and 8th generations (Wii, DS, and 3DS), but Sony still has the highest selling unit of all time, as Nintendo had the most failed systems.

The verdict confirmed that the issues I picked actually made the competitors look equal, but Nintendo won because I liked their games more than Sony’s or Microsoft’s.

Ranking the debates from strongest to weakest

Now that the reviews are over, here is a list of how strong or weak my opinions are based on the verdicts I made at the end of each debate. I picked handhelds over consoles, cartridges over discs, physical copies over digital copies, and Nintendo over Sony and Microsoft. Which issues are the strongest? Which ones are the weakest?

  • Discs vs Cartridges – based on the issues I put for this debate, my strongest decision at the verdict of each debate is the Disc vs Cartridge debate. I can understand that most companies prefer the disc format due to cost effectiveness, but my main issue is system durability. When I was browsing the internet on why the Nintendo 64 is the best console (compared to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), durability was one of the reasons. I prefer to play systems that are able to last longer. I also prefer to play games with shorter loading times since I lack short-term patience. There’s no reason to sit around and wait constantly for the next scene to happen. Yeah, data corruption and its high possibilities is a hindrance to the cartridge format, but disc players don’t last very long.
  • Nintendo vs Sony vs Microsoft – my second strongest opinion on the verdicts goes to the debate between the big three competitors in the gaming industry. Based on the issues I picked, it’s like pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of each business in the market. However, I picked Nintendo out of the three because most of the games I loved were part of the Nintendo systems. Games I like are Super Mario Sunshine, Donkey Kong 64, Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon Snap, Hey You Pikachu, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and two of the more recent games I consistently play (New Leaf and Happy Home Designer). All of them were part of the Nintendo systemS.
  • Handhelds vs Consoles – my opinion is a strong one here, but it was a tough battle. The idea of playing on the handheld systems is better than playing video game consoles. Portability, the sharing issue, and the privacy issue made handhelds a lot better. However, the majority of the games I played and enjoyed were on the consoles. The Nintendo 64 and GameCube had the best games. I also liked playing the PlayStation 2.
  • Physical vs Digital Copies – the weakest opinion of mine would go to the third debate. The issue that made the decision tough would have to be the game quality. Since they’re basically the same both ways, I can’t decide easily. Even choosing whether I prefer playing N64 games on Virtual Console or not has its advantages and disadvantages. The save states would be my favorite part of the VC, but not all Nintendo 64 games I enjoyed playing were on the Virtual Console. I went with physical for the main reasons being ownership and data limits on console.

And that’s all for the debates. I had fun sharing with you guys.

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