An End of Consoles

Just read with great interest an interview excerpt with John Carmack where he offers some thoughts on the future of mobile devices and consoles. Choice quotes from John:

“”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. 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. And we’re going to be doing everything we can to constrain our projects more to not take so long.”

“… that means that almost certainly, 2 years from now, there will be mobile devices more powerful than what we’re doing all these fabulous games on right now.”

While he doesn’t come right out and say mobile phones will completely replace consoles in a few years, he does make suggest some increases in mobile tech which would create serious questions about the continued need for a dedicated “console” device.

While at this year’s E3 I noticed a number of mobile device manufactures showing off mobile phones connected to large flat-screens. The display resolution wasn’t even close to current-gen consoles (which are 7+ years old now!), but as Carmack points out, the delta of advances in mobile suggest it won’t be long before these devices catch up – and surpass current consoles.

All of this suggests a point in the not too distant future where our mobile devices become everything-devices, able to serve as mobile workstations, play-stations, translators, phones (how quaint) and more.

And back to John’s comment about the “scary” nature of the changes taking place while “big” games get developed. I wonder what he’d say about Minecraft? A success like that raises questions about the viability of hugely expensive, long-schedule console developments. When a java game developed by a lone individual requires only a week of development before initial release then goes on to sell 2.5 million units (June 13, 2011 stat) in less than 1 year…

Reminds me of a rebellious little developer we all knew 20 years ago, which was able to quickly create blockbuster, industry changing game titles with a team of less than 10 people. Those were the days… these are the days.

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