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Carmack: Mobiles will surpass current consoles

Carmack: Mobiles will surpass current consoles

John Carmack has been working in mobile gaming since 2005

John Carmack has stated that it is 'unquestionable' that mobile games will surpass current consoles in an interview with IndustryGamers.

Although he says that people have exaggerated the power of current mobile platforms, he reckons they are not far away from the current console generation and speculates that in two years time they will be much further ahead.

Carmack said that older developers report playing small games on the iPad a lot more than they find themselves sitting in front of a 360 or PS3. 'It's a different experience though,' he added. 'It's a diversion rather than a destination.'

When id started working on Rage, Carmack explained that the iPhone and iOS did not exist. '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,' he said.

He also speculates that streaming services like OnLive will do well in the future, with convenience being a huge factor in determining the direction of future gaming generations.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

37 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
kenco_uk 8th July 2011, 12:20 Quote
I can quite believe it. Some of it's down to the smaller native resolution of the screens on mobile devices. How does the grunt of a Vita, iPad 2 or Galaxy S II compare to an x360 or PS3?
<A88> 8th July 2011, 12:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
I can quite believe it. Some of it's down to the smaller native resolution of the screens on mobile devices. How does the grunt of a Vita, iPad 2 or Galaxy S II compare to an x360 or PS3?

You're talking about completely different paradigms though. Mobile games don't need to run on over-specced custom desktop rigs to provide value to their users; my most played games on the iPad include Countdown, GWars Touch, Angry Birds and eBoy FixPix. Mobile games are more dependent on innovative control methods and interaction rather than raw power, but they in no way infringe on the amount I still use my Xbox 360- I just happen to play mobile games a lot more now that I've got devices that they run on.

People who play PC and consoles gains have to actively pursue doing so, but when everyone who has a smartphone or a tablet can play Plants v Zombies or Boggle, it's not hard to see which will reach ubiquity quicker.

Edit: In hindsight I'm not quite sure whether the article's claiming that mobile gaming will become more successful than console gaming or more powerful, but my points above remain.
enciem 8th July 2011, 12:45 Quote
It was talking about power I believe. Considering the 360 and PS3 based on pretty old tech it's not unreasonable to expect mobile devices to catch up. The PS Vita is coming this year so in a couple of years the likes of the PowerVR chips will impressive in comparison to the 360 and PS3. I just wish they'd release some new battery technology to go with it, otherwise we'll be playing games on mobile phones that have to be constantly plugged in, which kinda defeats the point.
kenco_uk 8th July 2011, 12:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by <A88>
You're talking about completely different paradigms though. Mobile games don't need to run on over-specced custom desktop rigs to provide value to their users; my most played games on the iPad include Countdown, GWars Touch, Angry Birds and eBoy FixPix. Mobile games are more dependent on innovative control methods and interaction rather than raw power, but they in no way infringe on the amount I still use my Xbox 360- I just happen to play mobile games a lot more now that I've got devices that they run on.

People who play PC and consoles gains have to actively pursue doing so, but when everyone who has a smartphone or a tablet can play Plants v Zombies or Boggle, it's not hard to see which will reach ubiquity quicker.

Edit: In hindsight I'm not quite sure whether the article's claiming that mobile gaming will become more successful than console gaming or more powerful, but my points above remain.

I can see where you're coming from, but look at how far mobile phones have come already. Nokia's Snake game was one of the first and you can now play that on every youtube video. The amount of power needed to run Angry Birds as smooth as it does is phenomenal compared to what a phone's hardware was back then. It's because of the strides forward that you're able to play these new types of games and it's why you're finding yourself playing them more as the current hardware is able to offer a lot more than something as simple as Snake.

The games themselves are a lot more engaging because of the gfx and sound and the fact they are always to hand and nearly immediate to play. They are only ever going to get more sophisticated gfx wise - the interface could change or alter to include mind or eye control I guess. The sound can't really have a lot more to it - small speakers aren't known for producing stellar audio.

My only hope is that phones don't go '3d' necessitating wearing 3d ready glasses all the time. I can see prescription 3d glasses being an available line in Specsavers.
greypilgers 8th July 2011, 12:55 Quote
Substance, please, Carmack. Give us a REASON to be listening to you. Does he ever say anything that is not either patently obvious or just bullsh*t, anyway? Of course in many way mobile platforms will surpass current gen consoles. He's describing one as dynamic and the other as static.

If he talks about power and capability then I am sure that the next development of consoles will be more powerful than any 'portable device'.

He is right about portable games being diversion rather than destination, but again, tell me something we don't know, John. Or better yet, make a game that's good and relevant instead. That is your job, isn't it?
hrp8600 8th July 2011, 13:09 Quote
Will mobiles surpass current consoles ? yes given enough time.
The question should be will they surpass the next Gen of consoles in the consoles life time?
It microsoft and sony plan on the long life the current gen have had, then the answer will be OH YES.
blohum 8th July 2011, 13:30 Quote
What?!?!?! You mean things will be faster in the future.... surely not!?!
sp4nky 8th July 2011, 13:30 Quote
To summarise the article, and the gentleman's comments, technology that's developed in the future will be more powerful than something that's already 5 years old.

Gee whizz. In similarly ground-breaking predictions, my mate said that it's going to be hotter in London next week than it was six months ago, when we had all that snow.
Bauul 8th July 2011, 14:32 Quote
To give him some slack, he did state that mobiles would suprass current consoles "in two years".

In all fairness, taking the contents of a PS3 and shrinking it to a tiny handheld device with a built in screen in seven years is pretty good going!
dicobalt 8th July 2011, 14:32 Quote
Mobile gaming has been around a long time, it has been and always will be an activity for waiting rooms and toilets.
thil 8th July 2011, 14:33 Quote
Good ol' Carmack. Probably one of the first big names to point out that Farmville =/= Deus Ex.

Really, the whole "There are ton of flash games on PC! How can you say PC gaming's not great right now?" shits me no end.
azazel1024 8th July 2011, 15:07 Quote
I think he is probably correct in some ways. As a few commentators have pointed out, the PS3 and others have been around for a long time. Current generation dual core ARM processors are packing about 1/2-2/3rds of the computational power of a current Atom dual core and the graphical prowess is also approaching probably about half to two thirds of an Intel HD2000 SB integrated GPU (for the more powerful ARM graphical processors).

Considering that mobile CPU and GPU power is increasing at a rate well above Moore's law, it wouldn't suprise me that in 2 years there will be either ARM or x86 mobile chips with 6-10x the power of current processors (or about a mid-grade old Core 2 dual processor like an E7500 or something). That puts it easily on par or beyond what current generation consoles are capable of.

If manufacturers continue 7-10 years product runs mobile gaming probably will continue to "leap ahead" at least in the last 1-4 years of a consoles life time. Of course next generation consoles are likely to have a lead for several years when they are first introduced, but as I mentioned if they have the extended life cycles that this generation has, mobile processing is again likely to over take them before the consoles' EOL.

I think though that processing in the tablet arena is more likely to be what really steps ahead. That isn't to say that a phone couldn't, but a tablet has anything from 3-6x more battery capacity, which means it can pack a much more powerful processor for similar battery life as a phone, or a somewhat more powerful processor with a longer battery life than a phone. Its also easier to make a higher resolution display because of all the extra screen real estate, combined with more space for interface and controls.

Speaking as an iPad 2 owner, mine certainly won't exceed a PS3 or Xbox 360, but it'll beat the pants off a Wii, an Xbox or PS2 and I can imagine in a generation or two of processor reaching parity with current generation consoles. I like me both my casual and my more in depth games on a tablet.

Frankly, everyone wins.
wiggles 8th July 2011, 16:08 Quote
Just a headline grab
greypilgers 8th July 2011, 16:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiggles
Just a headline grab

+1 to you. I'd rather he just stuck to making games, and got back to making good ones.

It's interesting thought that perhaps one fo the reasons mobile stuff is doing so well is ebcause it only has to power a very small screen compared to the 30inch+ that consoles and PCs have to populate?
kenco_uk 8th July 2011, 17:12 Quote
Tough crowd :)
Sloth 8th July 2011, 21:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
I can quite believe it. Some of it's down to the smaller native resolution of the screens on mobile devices. How does the grunt of a Vita, iPad 2 or Galaxy S II compare to an x360 or PS3?
The Vita is pretty close to a PS3, there was a tech demo of MGS4 running on Vita hardware that comes to mind. At what resolution and frame rate I can't quote but suffice to say it's not far off from the real deal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Tough crowd :)
Just a bit hard to be impressed by someone stating the obvious. Carmack "reckons" what any average Joe can go and observe for himself: Mobile devices are getting quite powerful and, if they keep advancing at the same rate, are destined to overtake current generation consoles pretty soon. Granted it's a pretty neat to think about how quickly mobile technology is advancing, it's just not really news worthy to mention.
Lazarus Dark 9th July 2011, 02:56 Quote
okay, sure. In 5-10 years, 1080p capable full consoles will be small enough to be called "mobile". Maybe they'll even have a screen just because the cost difference makes it a waste not to have a small screen.
but we're still going to want to plug it into the hdtv and surround sound.
"mobile" gaming is only good for short, pointless games, boredom killers on the ride to work. You can't get into an epic storyline or go on a raid while on the subway.
rogerrabbits 9th July 2011, 05:47 Quote
All hail Captain Obvious!
LordPyrinc 9th July 2011, 06:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by blohum
What?!?!?! You mean things will be faster in the future.... surely not!?!

I was going to make a comment of my own, but this one says it all.
Bauul 9th July 2011, 08:38 Quote
Also, to give him some more slack, he was asked this in an interview. What was he supposed to say? "I refuse to answer that question as everyone already knows the answer?"

If it's an obvious question, blame the interviewer.
dyzophoria 9th July 2011, 08:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Also, to give him some more slack, he was asked this in an interview. What was he supposed to say? "I refuse to answer that question as everyone already knows the answer?"

If it's an obvious question, blame the interviewer.

heheh, most probably this one as well, he could have said "My Answer is too much for a tiny brain like yours to comprehend so I beg to comment"
feathers 9th July 2011, 11:15 Quote
Yes, Mobiles will outperform PS3 before long and still Carmack won't complete work on a game. ID Software is now the last of the dinosaurs. A once giant beast standing tall and biting the legs off smaller beasts. Now the IDinosaur is almost fossilised. No longer will the people wait 10 or 15 years between each game release.
Yemerich 9th July 2011, 12:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerrabbits
All hail Captain Obvious!
^^ this

I still play "Donkey Kong" in my game & Watch from Nintendo and you are telling me that games evolved?
I can't believe!...
[/sarcasm]
XXAOSICXX 9th July 2011, 14:05 Quote
"not far away from the current console generation and speculates that in two years time they will be much further ahead."

What a ridiculous thing to do say. This is nothing more than headline grabbing.
Fod 9th July 2011, 14:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
"not far away from the current console generation and speculates that in two years time they will be much further ahead."

What a ridiculous thing to do say. This is nothing more than headline grabbing.

oh yeah? the iPad 2 is practically there already. That's running a chipset that is identical to what will be in the next iPhone, out in the next few months if the rumours and speculation are to be believed.

12 months after that, Apple will release their next device. This is just the way things are going, dude. The current gen consoles are around 5 years old now. Things get faster; it's hardly surprising.
Dedlite 9th July 2011, 15:07 Quote
So how long have iD been working on Rage then? 5 Years? Jesus!
feathers 9th July 2011, 15:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedlite
So how long have iD been working on Rage then? 5 Years? Jesus!

And "when" rage is complete, they're going to start work on Doom 4. By that time we will have 16000 core GPU's.
XXAOSICXX 9th July 2011, 15:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fod
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
"not far away from the current console generation and speculates that in two years time they will be much further ahead."

What a ridiculous thing to do say. This is nothing more than headline grabbing.

oh yeah? the iPad 2 is practically there already. That's running a chipset that is identical to what will be in the next iPhone, out in the next few months if the rumours and speculation are to be believed.

12 months after that, Apple will release their next device. This is just the way things are going, dude. The current gen consoles are around 5 years old now. Things get faster; it's hardly surprising.


You missed the point. Of course mobile devices are practically there already compared to five year old technology - obviously! Carmack is comparing the mobile devices of the next couple of years to what will be SEVEN year old console technology...so of course mobiles will overtake them...but that's like comparing a modern 6-core PC with SLI/Crossfire to a pentium 4 with embedded graphics....it's not a fair comparison.

Carmack should be comparing the mobile devices of the future with the console/pcs of the future.

Thus, it's headline grabbing...he's just saying....."things in the future will be faster than the things we have now". No kidding. I'm just waiting for the "I told you this would happen" story in two years time.
Bauul 9th July 2011, 17:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX

Thus, it's headline grabbing...he's just saying....."things in the future will be faster than the things we have now". No kidding. I'm just waiting for the "I told you this would happen" story in two years time.

As I pointed out before - Carmack's just answering an interview question, he's hardly headline grabbing. Would you respond any differently if someone asked you if you thought mobile devices would overtake today's consoles?

It's a shame how little people actually read articles before comenting.
XXAOSICXX 9th July 2011, 21:26 Quote
Yes, I'd respond differently.

Yes, I read the article.

Oh-em-gee, we just disagree on this. That doesn't mean I didn't read it. It means I have a different opinion.
greypilgers 10th July 2011, 12:22 Quote
Perhaps we should not just lambast Mr Carmack for not doing anything relevant or productive in PC gaming these days (other than constant interviews) and ask Bit-Tech why they thought such a quote was newsworthy enough to build 95% of an article around it?
Again, there was an editorial from Bit-Tech/CPC recently proclaiming that they didn't follow the journalistic herd of sheep by posting every little quip and quote by anyone and everyone to sensationalise and fill space - please someone justify to me why the above article doesn't fall totally into that category? Come on, Bit-Tech, !QUALITY please, not just QUANTITY. It seems barely a week goes by when there isn't an article on here from Carmack (not ANOTHER Carmack article... Groan...) reporting on some 'newsworthy' comment of his in some pointless interview or other. Let's try and get some interviews from the relevant people in the software and ahrdware industry, not people who were relevant back in the mid-nineties...
XXAOSICXX 10th July 2011, 13:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by greypilgers
Perhaps we should not just lambast Mr Carmack for not doing anything relevant or productive in PC gaming these days (other than constant interviews) and ask Bit-Tech why they thought such a quote was newsworthy enough to build 95% of an article around it?
Again, there was an editorial from Bit-Tech/CPC recently proclaiming that they didn't follow the journalistic herd of sheep by posting every little quip and quote by anyone and everyone to sensationalise and fill space - please someone justify to me why the above article doesn't fall totally into that category? Come on, Bit-Tech, !QUALITY please, not just QUANTITY. It seems barely a week goes by when there isn't an article on here from Carmack (not ANOTHER Carmack article... Groan...) reporting on some 'newsworthy' comment of his in some pointless interview or other. Let's try and get some interviews from the relevant people in the software and ahrdware industry, not people who were relevant back in the mid-nineties...

This. +1
sjatin68 10th July 2011, 17:42 Quote
this is not applicable for atleast
xbox 360 reason kinect.
and as far the raw grunt is concerned its just a matter of a year for these devices to catch up with current gen consoles
[USRF]Obiwan 11th July 2011, 08:29 Quote
^^ +2

Carmack, why don't you make a best selling top 3 game again first, and then you can say whatever you want and we will probably believe you (again)
will_123 11th July 2011, 13:02 Quote
Quote:
He's describing one as dynamic and the other as static.

+1
Bauul 11th July 2011, 16:55 Quote
Argh! No! Must hold back rampent ID Software fanboyism! Must resist temptation to flame everyone!

Sigh. I know everyone's right, I just can't help it, I love them far too much to disagree with anything Carmack says, no matter how bleeding obvious or unhelpful.

I'll go away now and play Doom 2 in a corner somewhere.
ssj12 13th July 2011, 04:00 Quote
I suspect it wont Carmack. Even with Tegra 3 and the other quad-core arm processors coming by Q1 next year you are still behind the X360 and PS3 in tech. And I think your forgetting the PS4 and Xbox Next will be coming up soon for release. In order for mobile to surpass the currently unknown tech we need smart phones with at least eight-core processors that do their form of hyperthreading, GPUs equal to a GTX460 minimum, and 2Gbs of ram.
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