id Software’s John Carmack: Apple iPhone a significant threat to Nintendo, Sony

Apple Online Store“John Carmack, co-creator of the ‘Doom’ and ‘Quake’ franchises believes the time is coming when someone will spend $1 million or more to build an iPhone game,” Chris Morris reports for CNBC. “‘I wouldn’t be shocked if someone has one in development right now, though they probably don’t realize it will run that high yet,’ he says. ‘If a title could do well at $9.99, you could put [Nintendo] DS level development expenses into it.'”

“While he’s best known for his work on PC games – and, more recently, traditional console systems—Carmack says the iPhone is where he’s having the most fun. He also sees Apple’s popular smartphone as the gaming system with the biggest potential for future growth,” Morris reports.

“It could, in fact, become the dominant portable gaming system, he says, relegating the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP to second and third place,” Morris reports. “‘I think mid- to long-term it’s a significant threat,’ he says. ‘I don’t carry a DS or a PSP around, but I’ve got my iPhone everywhere. So if it plays good games, I’m less likely to pick one of the others u … I think the stars could align and it could start to eclipse those other systems in terms of unit sales.'”

“Carmack says he’s less eager to put together games for phones using Google’s Android operating system,” Morris reports. “‘I have mixed feelings about Android,’ he says. ‘I‘ve got a warm feeling about the open source model, but a lot of the things that make Linux not-so-wonderful seem to be there in Android. On the iPhone, you know everyone on that device [has the same functionality and hardware], while on Android, you’re across the board on a number of different things… The marketplace is also apparently not well handled. And from what I hear, nobody’s making a lot of money on these.'”

Read more in the full article, including what Carmack plans for Apple iPhone, here.


  1. ” I don’t carry a DS or a PSP around, but I’ve got my iPhone everywhere.”

    This is the reason I paid $100 for TomTom navigation app when a lot of people said you could get a dedicated device for the same price.

    It’s also why I hope to see a camera with “point and shoot” quality in a future iPhone.

  2. I do wish the camera was quite a bit better on the iPhone so I don’t have to carry a separate camera around.

    My kids have DSs. They always want to play with my iPhone and don’t pick up their DSs near as often anymore. I think they want Touch iPods (or whatever the name is) for xmas.

  3. John Carmack has an iPhone? Awesome! No wonder id released original Doom for iPhone … Carmack is like the S. Jobs of FPS games … especially since Bungie sold out to MS …

    Freaky that id’s Doom 3 plays better on Mac OS X than on Win XP, and doesn’t play at all on Win Vista!

    BTW these games are all about battling threats from both the minions of hell and the pretensions of arrogant humans! Very Biblical! … A. Crow ley should not have been cen sored

  4. I agree… I got sick of nintendo and sony constatnly doing stupid updates to thier consoles and carrying around disks/game cartidges is tedious… Plus I’m not going to fork out the money agian for thier new PSP Go now, when i have the iPhone!

    However the only thing that Apple needs to ensure that customers have is ability to access all of thier items when fully implemented… Right now with the apps space limitation I can see that this may be an issue in the long run!

  5. My nephews, 4 and 8 yrs old, begged and begged for iPod touches. My brother and I got them for their birthdays. Now, they don’t touch their DSes. Pretty funny really. I stuck them in Otterboxes for safety!

  6. Is there a reason why there are no comments from those rabid DS (or PSP) fans who usually claim that iPod is a joke as a gaming machine, and DS (or PSP) are “real” gaming devices for real games, and consequently fear no threat from iPod/iPhone?

    We’ve seen their comments every time iPhone/iPod is mentioned in the context of portable gaming.

  7. I don’t see this. Maybe the iPod Touch, but the iPhone is tied to a contract and it is not something you buy your 6 year old. Heck, not even an iPod Touch at that, but a DS, sure, why not.

  8. He’s not saying the DS and PSP will go away. He’s just saying that with the number of iPhones and iPod touches in people’s pockets, the games will be bought for those devices more and more and less so for the DS and PSP.

    Convenience is what the iPhone and iPod touch are all about. Bot, especially the iPhone, go wherever you go.

    I know my touch goes with me wherever I go since my calendar, mail, contacts, etc. are on it too.

    So, it does have the possibility of becoming a huge gaming platform with fantastic games for those who already own one, or for those who want them just for games, or for those who like the whole “convergence” idea and are only going to have one thing in their pocket.

    “Ummmmmmm……. honey…… did you pack the DS for me to play on te plane? And, oh yes, the Creative MP3 players? Oh, and my cell phone? Oh, and my little camera to grab a few shots of things on the trip? And oh yes, my pad and paper for notes and my little telephone book, and…..”

    … well, you get the idea.

  9. Nintendo and Sony have more than readied themselves for the digital distribution age with their PSP Go and DSi.

    My regret for the DSi is that there is only one card slot. If the DSi had two card slots I think it’s portability when combined with the downloadable games would be equal to the PSP Go or iPhone/Touch.

    I plan to get the DSi when I can afford it, but I’m more than happy with my DS Lite.

    I don’t see this as being an issue of the iPod/Touch eliminating the PSP and DSi or making them obsolete as it were, the portable space has room for three systems just as the home console space does, especially seeing as all three systems have fairly diverse niches cut out for them.

  10. Somebody catch me – please! Let me get this right: John Carmack actually saying something NICE about Apple?!!?? Pigs can fly then. All I have ever ready by Carmack are sneering diatribes about Apple this and Apple that.

    Maybe success is finally mellowing John.

  11. Just wait until the developers have some time to work with the localization APIs like has been done with the Layar app.

    Imagine laser tag or paintball with your iPhone and no other equipment. Point your phone at the other guy and “shoot” and his iPhone (and yours, of course) will know that he’s been hit. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up an extra life by “touching” that virtual blue star floating in the air.

  12. John Carmack was an Apple programmer to begin with. When he started programming he started on the same thing everyone else did, an Apple II.

    He is not however a fan of Apple’s attitude toward gaming. NO ONE should be a fan of Apple’s attitude toward gaming. They have and continue to ignore gaming on the Mac. Website lip service does not count. Not having a upgradable Mac in the average person’s price range takes Apple out of the question for gamers. So why should Carmack say anything positive about his industry and his source of income being ignored by the company.

    Shipping computers with last years GPU’s soldered to a board inside a “sealed” chassis… I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone why nobody games on a Mac. DOOM III is 5 years old!

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