id Software’s Carmack: ‘Unquestionable’ that mobile will surpass current game consoles

“id Software’s John Carmack has taken a greater and greater interest in mobile gaming over the last couple years, and the rate at which the hardware iterates in the smartphone and tablet space has allowed the technology to nearly catch up with consoles,” James Brightman reports for IndustryGamers.

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“In a recent interview with Carmack, IndustryGamers asked whether mobile could become so popular that it’ll one day overtake traditional console gaming,” Brightman reports. “‘That’s one of the things that we do discuss internally a lot and it’s amazing to think that when we started Rage, iOS didn’t exist. There was no iPhone. All of that has happened just in the space of one project development timeline. And that’s a little scary when you think about it, because major landscape change could be happening underneath our feet as we work on these large scale projects,’ noted Carmack. ‘And we’re going to be doing everything we can to constrain our projects more to not take so long… it’s unquestionable that within a very short time, we’re going to have portable cell phones that are more powerful than the current-gen consoles.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Attribution: MacNN. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Sarah” for the heads up.]


  1. I’m not sure it takes the brains of Carmack to figure out that handheld devices will at some point meet and surpass current generation technology.

    That has been happening since the beginning. Every generation of portable device gets more powerful and surpasses what was once only possible with a big box and a lot of fans.

  2. Touch based games are so different for us old timers. Give me an actual controller with dual analog sticks for Call of Duty on the Apple TV and I’ll be happy.

    I love everything about my iPad and iPhone and Apple TV, but the lack of an actual controller with buttons or a joystick requires the PS3 to keep taking up room next to the TV.

    It’s all well and good to have extremely powerful mobile devices, but without a way to interact with that device in a real gaming way will keep the dedicated consoles around for the foreseeable future.

    1. Easily solved. If there is a demand for a Controller with joysticks and buttons that the iPhone could snap into, then there is probably one available or soon will be.
      Good Luck

    2. I don’t even think its an issue of being ‘old’. There is flat out a massive chasm when it comes to control with a touch screen vs a controller.

      1. Console controllers are low precision.
        There’s a reason why autoaim is abundantly used in consoles and not in iOS or PC, even on the same game (CoD on PC vs console versions).
        When you have high-precision input autoaim doing things on it’s own is notable and annoying.

    3. I’ll take my Robotron download for the 360. It’s the only reason I allow the XBox in the house… Now there’s a game of which I am the champion of the house… Hail! Hail! Old School Arcade Games!

  3. The problem with dedicated consoles is that there is a significantly limited group of consumers to buy them and their games. That has been proven time and time again, and is a ceiling against which the console makers constantly hit. The Wii has done the best at attracting the non-traditional gamer, but many would argue at the expense of the hard-core gamer.

    The big difference with the iOS devices is that millions upon millions more people own them, and that number only grows. So what if I don’t want to play Call of Duty; my son does. So he can use his iPad for Call of Duty, and he can also have his school books on it, and research his projects, and watch MLB games.

    All on one device, which costs less than a console (factoring in all the extra controllers, costs of buying games, and maybe a dedicated TV so the teens aren’t constantly interrupting you watching the latest “Deadliest Catch” so they can blow things up on the PS3).

    1. That sounds almost exactly like the reasons i used to hear about why the home computer was going to kill consoles.

      While gaming on the computer was and is still big consoles have proved time and again that to still be a big seller.

      A handheld device that is predicted to finally meet the capabilities of the current gen consoles (which are 5-6 years old) sometime in the future is not the end of the console. The next gen consoles are already deep in development. The next xbox is likely to see a 2012 release.

      Personally i think there is room for mobile gaming and consoles.

      1. The next-gen consoles are NOT deep in development. At this point in the previous cycle, the PS3 AND the Xbox 360 had been announced for about 2 years. It takes a minimum of 24 months for a team to create a AAA launch title for a new platform, and unless my many contacts in the game industry have failed me (highly unlikely), there are no replacements to the 360 or the PS3 in sight.

        At the rate at which the iOS devices are improving in computational power, I expect that they will surpass consoles in 18-24 months. Even IF there are new consoles within that time frame, at the rate of speedup of the mobile devices, they will overtake them within 3 generations, which is MUCH shorter than a console replacement cycle.

        Of course, all this is a bit of a moot point. What would console designers do if they had 10x, 50x, 250x the current processing power? They are already doing almost photorealistic graphics at 1920X1080@60 fps. Sure, there are some areas where they can improve things, but the computational powers of the current hardware is “good enough” to do almost everything, short of some batshit crazy graphics effects, and batshit crazy graphics effects are not going to push 10s of millions of consoles.


        1. Your contacts have failed you. I know someone working on one of the next gen consoles right now. At least one major publisher already has a preliminary devkit. My friend was hired a year ago for development. Its coming sooner than later.

          It does not matter how fast mobile devices improve. We saw that with pc gaming, fierce upgrades and highly capable machines and the console still lived. The more upgrade cycles and for gaming it just becomes more fragmented with multiple revs of hardware that have different capabilities.

          Graphics are not the sole reason for more power. AI, open environments and object interaction all benefit. There is much more to a great game than graphics! Besides everything seems good enough until new hardware appears. My og xbox seemed like the bees knees till the 360 arrived!

          I think we’ll see awesome gaming on both device types. I just don’t know that either can replace the other and i consider that a good thing

  4. With new mobile processors coming out almost every six months, I’d feel certain they can easily surpass console processors that come out every few years. Totally different platform, though. I’d hate the idea of investing in a new console every six months. Three years seems like a nice time for a console to stay more or less current.

    I’d sure get a kick out of seeing an Apple A6 processor in an AppleTV that’s more powerful than the coming Xbox 360. That would really be something sweet. Apple should certainly have the means to do it.

  5. Given the rapid pace of the iOS CPU development, it will not be long before mobile devices surpass the next generation of consoles. With relatively high-end graphics capabilities on all platforms, consoles will have to differentiate themselves with the controllers players will use, at least until HD televisions quadruple in resolution and place new demands on graphics hardware.

  6. I’ve played quite a few iPad games that are screen controlled and I must say they suck to the maximum. The onscreen controls are mushy, unpredictable and terrible to use. They’re nowhere near the fluidity of dedicated controllers found on the Sony PS3 which beats the shit out of an iPad controller any day of the week. Crapalicious would be too kind a word for it. That’s the reason why I never download paid for controller based iPad games – they suck too much to be usable in any way, shape or form.

  7. You have to remember that there are different markets for each of these. I am a console gamer, a hardcore one at that. I prefer console games to PC games because they are largely free of game-crippling bugs and configuration problems, and because the games are optized to run on their specific hardware.

    I do not own a portable system, because I like the comfort of gaming in my living room. And I rarely play (hardcore) iOS games because the controls for these games are seriously lacking. I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon, unless it is through the Apple TV with *dedicated* physical controllers.

    Surely the iOS gaming market will continue to grow. But it will not be at the demise of the console market. That is a different and specific market that iOS simply cannot infringe upon yet.

  8. Yes, I have been saying it too for a while: someone please release a bluetooth gamepad for the iPad ! PLEASE!! So many games need it so desperately. Otherwise iPad will never really be a serious competitor to consoles.

    And BTW, as I’m sure Carmack knows, the next gen XBOX and PS3 consoles will blow away what iPads will be able to do for several years.

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