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MassDebate avatar 7:04 AM on 05.28.2011  (server time)
Debatoid Special: Which platform is best for home gaming this generation?

Welcome to a very special Debatoid! This week, we take a controversial topic, form a proposition, and have set four contenders the challenge of stating their case. After which, users may vote to decide which contender they support. Rules for voting are at the bottom of the blog, but it is recommended that you read the contenders' cases before you cast your vote.

The proposition: The PC / PS3 / Wii / XBox 360 represents the best that this generation's home gaming has to offer.

mrandydixon states his case in favor of the PC:

Ask anyone who has spent some time with the platform and they’ll tell you: gaming on the PC is all about giving the gamer choice. From graphics cards to controllers, and digital distribution to dedicated servers, PC gamers are given free reign to customize their gaming experiences in ways console gamers will simply never know.

Hardware-wise, the PC offers literally everything available on home consoles and then some. Don’t like the idea of playing Crysis with a keyboard and mouse? Just plug in your Xbox 360 controller and you’re set. Prefer a more Wiimote or PS Move-like experience for your gaming? Grab a Razer Hydra and you’ll be light-gunning just like at the arcade. And let’s not forget that the PC offers Blu-ray (at higher speeds than what’s available on the PS3), cross-game chat (something only a third of console gamers can enjoy), true high definition graphics (1080p is a low resolution on the PC) and high-capacity storage options (for far cheaper than its console brethren), all of which serves to offer gamers more choices and less restrictions.

When it comes to the games themselves, the PC is the only platform that features actual, full-fledged digital distribution services that put the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii marketplaces to shame. Think about it: when is the last time you were able to pre-load an unreleased game on your home console and pay an average of $10 less for the luxury? Steam, Games for Windows Live, Impulse, and other companies consistently offer day-one releases of full retail games, a feature home consoles simply cannot match. In addition, services like Good Old Games ensure that even classic games from generations past will continue to work on your current OS. And if a digital-only future really is in the cards, the fact that the PC already has several digital distribution platforms competing for your business means the PC gamer will have choices that console gamers -- and their singular, proprietary sources of digital content -- sadly will not.

Where exclusives are concerned, the PC still retains some of the highest-quality games in the business, in spite of the all-too-common mantra proclaiming that “PC gaming is dead”. Between MMOs like World of Warcraft and the upcoming Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic, and strategy games like Starcraft II and Total War: Shogun 2, the PC is chock full of high-profile, exclusive games, often in genres that only the PC can truly do justice. The PC is also the home of some of the most experimental indie and low-budget games available, many of which are offered either for free or incredibly cheap. Add to that the fact that PC games consistently feature more post-release support and free DLC than their console counterparts, and that oft-maligned barrier for entry into PC gaming -- the price -- becomes nothing but a myth.

PC gamers not only enjoy the best that gaming has to offer in the current generation, but given the open nature of the platform, they’re also best prepared for whatever the future may bring. While the big three console makers will continue churning out a new piece of hardware every few years to try and keep up, the PC is constantly evolving and growing, ensuring that gamers will never get bored, and that they’ll never get left behind.

Sexualchocolate states his case in favor of the PS3:

The PS3, despite recent online / security troubles, provides the best, most interesting, but more importantly, most varied gaming experience of this generation, let me tell you why.

It’s not because it has the most games (it doesn’t), or the biggest online community (it doesn’t), or even the most advanced hardware (actually, other than some PC’s it may have that one), the main reason is the sheer variety of games in the first party exclusive pile.

The PS3 is one of the last platforms (apart from the PC) where publishers aren’t afraid to push the envelope, aren’t afraid to take a risk.

Like it, love it, hate it or ridicule it, Heavy Rain was an important game this generation. It took this childish kids pastime (in the non-gaming public’s eyes) and said, “hey look, we can do mature entertainment and storytelling too”. Whenever I see shots from L.A. Noire I can’t help but think, “Would Rockstar have hit this with so much confidence and support were it not for the success of Heavy Rain?”

Online shooting games for decades have been 6v6, 12v12 or at the very most 16v16 affairs on home consoles. Generally they still are! But when the graphically inferior, yet technically impressive MAG released, this “norm” was blown out of the water. No matter what you think of MAG personally, you can’t say it hasn’t pushed boundaries by bringing the huge player counts normally only found on PC games, to home console gamers.

Which brings me nicely to another point; dedicated servers. After years of “the host has left the game” and “Selecting new host please wait” screens I personally find Sony first party titles to be a breath of fresh, dedicated air. MAG, SOCOM, Warhawk, pretty much all Sony 1st party titles with considerable online content are hosted on dedicated servers making for a smoother, less user-connection-reliant experience.

Did I mention that is was 100% FREE to play on those dedicated servers?

The PS3 isn’t ageist. Yup you read that right, the PS3 doesn’t care how old you are. Small kids, perhaps your own kids, have plenty of stuff to do and play with, Eyepet is another interesting, risk taking idea, yet one aimed at younger kids. There is a wealth of old and new titles aimed at the younger gaming generation alongside a rich diverse library for your average teenager or “CoD loving fragheads” as our friend Jim put it. But then on top of all that you have more mature, thoughtful and interesting titles for adult gamers and even titles your parents would be interested in! (If only they’d give gaming a chance).

Without expressly insulting other consoles’ users, I personally think, that if age ratings on games were 100% adhered to, that kids between 6 and 16 would have a real hard time finding interesting and exciting games to play on other HD consoles (obviously not the Wii) but on the PS3 they’re pretty well covered. Perhaps just as well as the 16-24 age range, and the 24+ age range.

You could, in theory, get a wii for the younger kids, then an Xbox for the 16-24’s (probably a couple of replacements too eh?) and then a PC for the 24+’s, but on the other hand, you could just get a PS3 which “only does” entertaining all ages.

So, interesting and varied exclusives, (not just space shooter 6 and far-fetched-wargame 3) free online and the ease and convenience of a console, matched with the varied media capabilities of a PC, (did I mention it’ll play pretty much any media from any storage device you plug into it?) add in the Motion control of the Wii+ (don’t even get me started on the awesome Sharpshooter!) and you’ve got one hell of an entertainment system!!

rexwolf2 states his case in favor of the Wii:

All my life, I've been a fan of Nintendo. I can't deny it, and it's doubtful that it'll ever change. While I was hired to argue that the Wii is the best console of this generation, I have to say that it isn't. Neither is the PC. Or the 360. Sorry, SexualChocolate, but it isn't even the PS3. Each console is undeniably fantastic, and the fact that there are four people each arguing for a different platform proves something: There is no definitively "best" console experience. To each their own, I say.

However, it's still my duty to show everybody what I find so special about the Wii and what it has to offer, so I'd best get started.

One part of the Wii that I adore is the backwards compatability that it has with the Gamecube. While the HD fellows may have trouble with playing games from previous generations, the Wii can play any and all Gamecube games. In addition to backwards compatability, the Wii's Virtual Console service means that on one system, you can play games from every single Nintendo home console ever created, in addition to a few non-Nintendo consoles. The NES, SNES, and to a lesser extent the N64 have heaps upon heaps of classic games ready for the purchase, many of which hold up excellently. Sure, the other consoles have retro-styled games on their digital marketplaces, but Virtual Console has the real deal. These games are classics for a reason. Some of the best times that I've had this generation have technically not even been from this generation.

It goes without saying that the Wii is the only console supported by first-party Nintendo games. There's something about games made by Nintendo that sets them apart from the rest. Nintendo has often been called the Pixar of gaming, a comparison that I fullheartedly support. Colorful, fun for people of many ages, and not bogged down by trying to be "mature." To me, Nintendo has always been about gameplay and fun, something best demonstrated by the Mario Galaxy games. With tight platforming controls and great level design, the games are some of my favorite of this generation. Even playing with gravity can be an amazingly fun thing to do.

When I look at what I see in the Wii, the name of the game is retro. I've already explained the Virtual Console, but there are many newer games that take retro gameplay and expand and innovate, something that feels perfectly natural on a Nintendo console. There are 2D platformers being sold as retail games, and a few hidden gems such as Bit.Trip and Cave Story being sold on WiiWare.

Many of you may be saying, "So what? I experienced retro gaming ages ago when it was just called gaming." I can respect that. Some people (like me) have not done so before. While some may call Virtual Console a greedy, low-effort moneygrab, I call it an opportunity to play amazing games that I otherwise wouldn't be able to.

In addition to all the above, the Wii has Netflix. Yes, everything has Netflix, but it's too amazing of a program not to mention.

I almost forgot: The controller. I find it incredibly relaxing to be able to sprawl my arms whatever way I want when playing games. Motion control, while not perfect, lends itself to some fun applications. Finally, I consider the Gamecube controller to be one of the best ever made. With so many controller configurations, playing the Wii is a very diverse experience.

So, the bottom line is this: Years upon years of amazing games, and first-party Nintendo magic. Also, Netflix and an abundance of controllers.

Nihil states his case in favor of the XBox 360:

I'll preface by saying that I haven't been a fanboy of any one console since the Genesis Days. I became a shameless whore when Sega went under, no need to lie about it now. I'd play games wherever they could be played, and the same holds true today. At least it would, if I could afford it or had gamer friends close by. At this point, every major console has something to offer for everyone. They aren't just your little brother's birthday present anymore - all of them can be entertainment centers for the family, in more ways than one. Maybe two, even. However, I do think the Xbox 360 is the most versatile and reliable piece of hardware this generation.

Taking a piss on the other consoles is not what I'm about; the hardware doesn't have a choice in how it's marketed, or why it malfunctions, or how ridiculous its fanbase acts. Bearing that, I'm feeling extremely vindicated by Sony's latest fiasco. I don't know what it's been about this generation that has made Sony become huge douches, but I haven't been able to trust them from the get-go. From making the PS3 the most expensive at launch with hardly any notable games, to throwing ludicrous amounts of money into the pile of FAIL that was/is Home. In this age of connectivity, a product should be as reliable as the company pushing it. Otherwise... you have what happened there. That's not to say Nintendo or Microsoft are saints, but you have to admit, their practices have been more consumer-friendly.

Sorry, I just had to vent that.

It's hard to explain it without sounding like I'm trying to sell you this goddamn system, so I'll just make it as simple as possible: variety is the biggest thing Xbox has going, next to accessibility. Not just in its library, but its features, too. What are there like, four different types? And what online capabilities do they have that PS3 or Wii doesn't? If you hate DECISIONS, they've got the Slim streamlined now, with features that the original should've started out having, so no worries.

Now, I'm not into the whole motion control thing. And honestly, I haven't been following how Kinect has been faring against Move. But I'm all for appliances that make the system more family friendly and open to people who would otherwise have nothing to do with it. That's pretty much been the mission statement PR has been getting at in this stage of the generation: making gaming mainstream. Hell, it's gotten to the point where you don't even need to play games to make the most of it.

Along with Netflix, which has such a tight grip on the American conscious, it's eerie; there's the Zune music marketplace and for audio junkies. The new ESPN channel for the bros. Facebook and Twitter apps for staying social, even when you're not being social. There's SOME feature to be taken advantage of, no matter your inclination, and it's getting more user-friendly all the time.

Beyond that, you have the Live Arcade, with literally hundreds of kid-friendly titles to get youngin's started; whether they're used as learning tools, or retro-gaming goodness to get their hand-eye up to snuff. That's probably the best thing to appreciate about it. You can poo-poo the over-the-top violence of major properties, but you can't say that's all the system is good for. And you really can't take that kind of ammunition for granted.

If being the best "home" gaming has to offer means being accessible to everyone in the home, the 360 does it in spades. Just pick up the damn controller and don't be retarded.

Many thanks to mrandydixon, Sexualchocolate, rexwolf2 and Nihil for their contributions.

Now, the ground rules for voting:

1. The users that set out the Debatoid are not eligible to vote. (we can guess where their allegiances lie)

2. Feel free to comment at any point before, during or after you have voted.

3. To vote, begin your comment as follows:
ANDY if you support the PC,
SEXUAL if you support the PS3,
REXWOLF if you support the Wii,
NIHIL if you support the XBox 360.
The rest of your comment can be used to, you know, comment.

4. Only comments that begin with ANDY, SEXUAL, REXWOLF or NIHIL may be considered in the voting process. Ensure you are spelling your vote correctly and placing it in capitals to make Debatoid happy.

5. One vote per user. Only your first vote will count; there are no do-overs. Do not spam the comments. Don’t bully other users into voting your way. Let’s keep it clean. Don’t be a wang.

6. Your voting should be based on the strength of the arguments set out by the contenders. Though your opinion may go some way towards forming your decision, do try to be as impartial as you can muster.

7. Any failure to undertake these rules or any ambiguity surrounding your vote may damage the chance of your vote counting. Whether or not your vote ultimately counts is at Debatoid's discretion. Maximise your chances by voting correctly.

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