If there's one person who you can trust when it comes to gaming technology, it's John Carmack. In an interview with IndustryGamers, the id Software programming god shared his thoughts on the gaming landscape of the future. A future in which the role of mobile platforms and cloud gaming will be a huge one.
Noting how at the start of Rage's development the iPhone didn't even exist, he shares his thoughts on the current state of mobile devices: "One thing that we hear a lot, especially from our older developers, is, 'I don't spend a lot of time sitting down in front of my 360 or PS3, but I pull out my iPad and play some little game all the time.' 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."
Carmack doesn't think that the surge in mobile gaming will mean the death of the traditional AAA titles though, saying those titles are selling more copies than ever before. As he puts it in perspective: "So it looks like it's parallel growth rather than one stealing from the other. But platform wise, you could certainly imagine a future where, instead of having your console, you have your mobile device and it talks to your TV and when you want the experience on your big screen with the surround sound coming out of there, it’s still on the same device."
It sounds like he'll probably be interested in the Wii U as a baby step towards that future. He went on to talk about how things like how the iPad 2's relative (processing) power is being exaggerated at the moment, but that a future is drawing close where we'll be able to see mobile devices that are more powerful than the current platforms most games are developed for at the moment.
While Carmack sees the landscape of platforms shift in the coming years, he adds that the convenience factor of both mobile devices and cloud streaming services like OnLive will have a future. Although he doesn't know if the current streaming services will survive long enough to see that day, he thinks it is "almost unquestionable" that 5 to 10 years into the future these developments will have a big role to play.
Despite admitting that the quality of the graphics and latency may impact how good games will look, Carmack thinks the convenience factor can make up for it for those people that don't really care about things like graphical fidelity. As he puts it: "You have the completely casual people that have no interest in buying a PS3. And then you've got the hard core people who want to sit down all weekend and stay in a position where they can get 20 hours of gameplay in."
I can't say I really care if I play a game on a console or on some mobile device that also lets me play it on a TV. As long as it controls well, looks great on a big screen, and has games I want to play, I'm fine with whatever the future will throw at me.
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