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Carmack: Mobile Tech Surpassing Console in 2yrs

In a recent interview with id Software's John Carmack, IndustryGamers asked if mobile will eventually overtake traditional console gaming. He admitted that it's one of the hottest topics they frequently discuss internally, but he also pointed out that Apple's iOS and iPhone weren't even around when the group began work on its current FPS, RAGE. That in itself is a little disturbing to a developer which typically takes years and years to conjure up a single title.

"All of that [smartphone growth] has happened just in the space of one project development timeline," he said. "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. And we’re going to be doing everything we can to constrain our projects more to not take so long."

The Sims and Spore creator Will Wright said something similar back in June, that the rate of change is increasing almost exponentially. "I don't think it makes sense to go through even a three or four year development cycle any more," he said. "Unless you can get something to market within a year, at least an initial version within a year, you're hosed. So that's the new model for development, which has totally changed my thinking. Almost any project I want to work on is going to be something I can at least get some version out there in about a year and then iterate from there."

Carmack admitted that a lot of his developer peers – especially the older ones – aren't spending a lot of time sitting down in front of the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. Instead, they consume their gaming time by whipping out the iPad or other mobile devices and play the smaller titles.

"It’s a different experience though," he said. "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. But it certainly is a worry. Could the bottom drop out on the triple A market because everyone’s playing Angry Birds? It doesn’t seem to be happening. The numbers don’t show that. We’re selling more big titles than ever before, despite having all of these other platforms out there. 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."

He goes on to predict that in a very short time, we'll own smartphones that are more powerful than current-gen consoles. "People have exaggerated the relative powers - the iPad2 is not more powerful than the 360," he said. "It’s still a factor of a couple weaker. But the fact that it’s gotten that close that fast - 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."

To read the full interview, head here.