Carmack foresees phones outdoing today’s consoles

id Software technical guru John Carmack has been rather chatty lately, giving long interviews and imparting his wisdom upon eager listeners. This time, he’s talked to the folks at IndustryGamers about the future of mobile gaming, and he has an interesting vision for the future.

For one, Carmack says it’s "unquestionable" that cell phones will soon become more powerful than the current crop of game consoles. We’re not there yet—the iPad 2 is "a factor of a couple weaker" than the Xbox 360—but handhelds will "almost certainly" have overtaken their set-top brethren in a couple of years. That fact has some major implications. Will people end up playing the latest titles on tablets, oblivious to their big-screen TVs? Carmack doesn’t think so:

It’s a different experience though… it’s a diversion rather than a destination. And while they’re certainly powerful enough now to make destination titles, that’s still not really what’s doing particularly well there. But it certainly is a worry. Could the bottom drop out on the triple A market because everyone’s playing Angry Birds? It doesn’t seem to be happening. The numbers don’t show that. We’re selling more big titles than ever before, despite having all of these other platforms out there. So it looks like it’s parallel growth rather than one stealing from the other.

However, Carmack does tentatively foresee a future where, to play console games in their living rooms, users simply interface their cell phones with their TVs and use the same device to play more serious titles. In that future, I assume handheld games would remain relatively low-tech and cheap—barring, perhaps, a few exceptions to the rule like today’s Infinity Blade. Certainly, I don’t think we can expect game developers to pour the same amount of effort into mobile games that they do into Xbox 360 titles and charge $1.99 for them.

Comments closed
    • ZGradt
    • 8 years ago

    Yeah, so he’s saying that the most expensive handhelds are 1/2 as fast as 2006 console tech. That doesn’t seem so surprising to me.

    Besides, you won’t find me gaming on a touchscreen. That’s just awful.

      • ET3D
      • 8 years ago

      No, he’s saying that if you don’t read the text you won’t understand it. And by this I’m referring to both the “1/2 as fast” your brain invented and missing: “Carmack does tentatively foresee a future where, to play console games in their living rooms, users simply interface their cell phones with their TVs and use the same device to play more serious titles.”

    • Pettytheft
    • 8 years ago

    Unless there is some sort of storage device or if he really thinks the cloud is going to take off I don’t see this happening anytime in the near future. Still not enough bandwidth, game install sizes are increasing, and cell phones still have not caught up to 5 year old technology graphically. To top it off the resolution is smaller. Makes things a bit easier on the hardware.

    • Joe Miller
    • 8 years ago

    Is there a week without another interview of Carmack?

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    It’s been that way ever since. To name a few examples, back in the mid 2000’s cellphones already had more gaming horsepower than your old NES console. Now our cellphones and tablets surely have more graphics muscle than an SNES, perhaps even PS1.

    Exciting times we live in.

    • Ashbringer
    • 8 years ago

    The future of games isn’t going to be handhelds. It’s just that game consoles are so behind the technology curve. Microsoft and Sony are too afraid to release new game consoles, cause people won’t buy them. The economy is hurting bad, and the PS2 outsold the PS3 for many years.

    My belief is that when “direct to metal” makes it way to PC, then console gaming is dead. Smartphones have already killed off the Nintendo 3DS. Home consoles will be replaced with PCs.

    This prediction is based on the idea that next generation consoles will cost somewhere between $500 – $600. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a massive increase in performance. In this day in age, a gaming PC can be had for the same price, and have the ability to go onto Facebook, print, and store your favorite pictures of yourself and friends at the beach.

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      Your prediction is wrong, at least for the foreseeable future. It’s not just the cost that drives users to consoles. It’s also the ease of use (pop in a disc and play). You don’t have to install the game, you don’t have to install stupid “game services” like GFWL, and you don’t have to tweak the settings or install new drivers.

      People also like the comfort of gaming from their couch. It’s possible to hook your PC up to a TV and controller of course, but again it’s more complicated than hooking up a console, and many PC games aren’t suited to controllers (try playing L4D2 online or Civ5 with a controller).

      Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in console games, and haven’t owned one since the early PS2 version (which died of course). There are millions of console gamers out there who just aren’t going to switch to a PC though.

        • Ashbringer
        • 8 years ago

        People won’t switch to PC over night, but that’s because there isn’t a lot of incentive. There really isn’t a huge performance difference or graphic difference between a gaming PC and a Xbox 360. Once “direct to metal” is available to developers, then we’ll see a huge leap in PC performance over console.

        Console gaming isn’t all peaches and cream anymore. PS3 owners know all about it. Ask them how long their software updates take, and games even have CD keys for consoles. It’s not as cut and dry as it once was. I’d also like to think that Steam is easier then going to the store and buying a game.

        PCs are easier now to connect to the TV, and you can even use the Xbox 360 controller. Both wired and wireless. Since most PC games are poorly ported console games, a Xbox 360 controller would feel the same on PC or 360. A good wireless keyboard and mouse on a couch arm rest feels pretty good. In fact, I’m using my HTPC to write this. Keyboard on lap, and mouse on the arm rest.

        There’s just less incentive every day for people to game on consoles. Not enough just yet, but new consoles would push people to avoid them. They’re cheap now, and it fits well with the economy. Look at the Nintendo 3DS and how it failed. It’s mainly due to the high price tag. You just can’t introduce a new game console the way the market is right now. Most likely the 360 and PS3 will keep going for another 2-3 years, before we see a PS4 or 720.

          • Pettytheft
          • 8 years ago

          I know people love to talk about putting their PC in the living room but it’s not feasible for everyone and it really is a very niche market. It still takes a bit of technical know how and a PC is still quite a bit larger than even the biggest of consoles.

            • shank15217
            • 8 years ago

            What crap, you just need a small ff pc with a wireless keyboard trackpad combo and a usb wireless network card.

          • bjm
          • 8 years ago

          Once “direct to metal” is available to developers? How is that not the case now? PC developers have more access to writing directly to the metal than other computing device on the planet.

    • danny e.
    • 8 years ago

    So, for Crysis 4, we’ll all be complaining about “iphoneitis” instead of consolitis. yay.

    🙂

    • Coulda
    • 8 years ago

    “foresees”??? SoC makers already announced products claiming to match console graphics. It makes more sense for Tablets since they have HDMI. Consumers may expect 1080p gaming. But smartphones/tablets use same SoC anyway, it may overkill for phone’s small screen size but who knows…SoC war could end up as GPU war as a differentiating factor. CPU is pretty much same ARM core, just question of how many you crammed in it.

    • PenGun
    • 8 years ago

    Wonderful. Any chance there will be any games for my games machine. Rage is a console oriented game and Carmack has said he wishes he had put more into the computer.

    Go ahead make your trivial games and get rich.

    Grumbles … old man goes back to his many Stalker games.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    its difficult to forsee this. its going to take more that a cheesy angry birds game for me to start gaming on a phone/tablet. also, i am not sure how any dev will approach the type of quality a 50GB ps3 game has.

    the only thing i can think of is running games on your pc/console and playing them remotely on your phone through some RDP interface, but unfortunately, the bandwidth that you will need to load a 4GB image would not be suitable…that and the fact that all cell carriers would probably no longer have unlimited data plans.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    The convergence of tech is inevitable. The cloud along with the pervasiveness of modern tech will combine to create one platform from witch many devices can access the same content. Unification and uniformity of content management will fight all forms of main stream media piracy.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      Spooky use of buzzwords!

    • ApockofFork
    • 8 years ago

    I think this says more about the convergence of computing than anything about consoles. Its more that people might start to just carry around a smart phone as their primary computer and then just plug it into different displays and interfaces. Imagine if you could stuff your desktop computer in your pocket. Then you might play a game with one interface on the go but a different one when you plug it into your ginormous 15 foot wall tv at home (you know in 20 years).

    • swaaye
    • 8 years ago

    I think phones are clearly extremely popular for little casual games. Like Angry Birds, little racing games, and puzzles / card game stuff.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]In that future, I assume handheld games would remain relatively low-tech and cheap[/quote<] Depending on whether you mean 'inexpensive' or 'poor-quality' by the word "cheap", I don't think so; I already enjoy H.A.W.X. on my Palm Pre, and there's lots of other fairly sophisticated games available for those platforms. The real limitation now is screen real estate, at least, more so than processing power. [quote<]I don't think we can expect game developers to pour the same amount of effort into mobile games that they do into Xbox 360 titles and charge $1.99 for them[/quote<] I think this is the same issue that the music industry and the movie industry are being dragged (kicking and screaming) into: technology is allowing the cost of content creation to plummet, and as a result [list=1<] * consumers expect a corresponding drop in the price of the final product * the purchase of the product is becoming an 'impulse buy' * a few will pirate the content if they feel it's worth their while to do so [i<]and lowering the price of the content to the point where it becomes an easy impluse buy is the best way to fight this[/i<], and * the days of content creators/producers making staggering sums of money on a single product are over, forever [/list<] So, yeah, I do see reasonably captivating, sophisticated games on phones/tablets at price points that would seem ridiculously low by current standards. EDITed to expand on point #3

    • tanker27
    • 8 years ago

    I certainly can see the melding of the two.

    It will be interesting to see how the next gen consoles hold up to a rapidly gaining force that is the mobile market. If the next gen can take advantage of it I can see a time where you can switch between the two. Gaming on the go and then transfer your ‘Save’ to the console or even media player on the go.

    • burntham77
    • 8 years ago

    This is not an unreasonable idea. New consoles come out once every five years typically (this current generation seems to be an exception for a few reasons), whereas new phones are coming out all the time. It makes sense that the hardware in the phones would get better more often.

    I still don’t see my phone or even my tablet as a “gaming platform.” Games are more of a secondary function, at least for me.

    • deinabog
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t think this will happen. I don’t play games on consoles but it’s difficult for me to imagine anyone playing something like Mass Effect 2 on a smartphone. Who would want to?

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      You don’t think technology will evolve and converge? Ok.

        • GTVic
        • 8 years ago

        If they develop more powerful processors on mobile devices, powerful enough to play a hi-def game, then I would prefer that they use those advances to build a smart phone that does what a smart phone should do for less than $650.

        On the other hand convergence of all the tech devices we seem to “need” is not a bad idea, but not at a cost that makes you look like an idiot 6 months after you make the purchase.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 8 years ago

          Obviously, you won’t have a choice and they’ll all be $650 once smartphones are ubiquitous. Darn technology, always rising in price as it becomes more prevalent!

        • deinabog
        • 8 years ago

        Evolution and convergence? Yes. The ascendance of mobile phones to the point they run games normally played on consoles? No.

      • tanker27
      • 8 years ago

      If it was an option and I could have the same experience that I could get from my PC/ Console I dont see why not. I would certainly take advantage of it.

      • Skrying
      • 8 years ago

      My phone has an HDMI output that works remarkably well. I can imagine a device that can be displayed on a HDTV (wired or wireless) and controlled with a wireless gamepad. Not something I’m interested but certainly a technologically possible setup.

      • Silus
      • 8 years ago

      Did you not read the article ? Carmack talks about a future where people, instead of having big consoles sitting on some shelf, will use their smartphones to interface with their TVs and play their games in the living room. The smartphone will be quite quite powerful. That’s where the industry is heading anyway. Desktop PCs are losing much of the importance they had in the past, among the majority of people. Laptops were a starting point, now we have tablets and smartphones will eventually get there as well 🙂

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This