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Carmack: PCs Not Important As Consoles

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 102 comments
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Every year, QuakeCon is John Carmack’s celebration of his technology and the games that the entire id Software team creates within it. Tom’s Games had the chance to sit down with John Carmack for a brief chat regarding Rage, id Software’s upcoming game slated for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

While digital distribution is an attractive option for publishers, developers and some gamers, Rage isn’t going to be an ideal candidate for that model. “It will be harder, because this is going to be a larger distribution; we’re at least at two DVDs and on the PC we might choose to be three DVDs to match what the game will look like for the PS3,” said Carmack. “So that makes for a pretty damn big download. I wouldn’t say it’s an optimal game for digital distribution, and I don’t think it’s a high-level strategic question.”

As primarily a developer on the PC, few know the shifts in the industry as well as id Software. Constantly are doom-and-gloom reports about how the PC is falling to the wayside of consoles, some even blaming piracy. Carmack isn’t so convinced: “Well, it’s hard to second guess exactly what the reasons are. You can say piracy. You can say user migration. But the ground truth is just that the sales numbers on the PC are not what they used to be and are not what they are on the consoles.”

Never is the shift from PC to console more abundantly clear than when Carmack asserts, “We still think the PC is a market worth supporting, but we’re not making decision around the PC. It’s probably more of the junior partner in the cross-platform strategy, although obviously, our day-to-day development is predominately on the PC.”

Such comments are hard to swallow for die-hard PC gaming faithful, but some may be able to find a little comfort in id Software’s dedicated to the open platform – at least for the foreseeable future.

“We certainly expect Rage and the Doom project on the PC. We’re contractually obligated to have Rage on the PC, and I would be stunned if we did not do Doom 4 for the PC,” Carmack added. “It would just be wrong. Even if it was a marginal business case, we would still do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Read the entire interview here at Tom’s Games.

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  • 0 Hide
    deadliest , August 7, 2008 9:19 PM
    well that`s a good thing to hear that they will still be supporting the games for PC.
    Because it`s like all these companies go where the big money is made which for now is the console`s.
    Really i respect ,ID for this and will continue buying their high quality games , they never dissapoint !!!
  • 6 Hide
    Preytor , August 7, 2008 9:43 PM
    Maybe not with the current gen of consoles, but hey could make consoles and PC compatible if they wanted to.
    Consoles would be much like a highly optimized PC (sorta are already).
    Sony, M$, and others would make these consoles, or just make one together. It could all be compatible is the point.

    No medium needs to "die" and everyone could play together (easier).
    One one hand it would make piracy easier, but there's other factors that may reduce it as well...
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 7, 2008 10:01 PM
    ^ some one needs to shoot you... your making way to much sense
  • -1 Hide
    eltouristo , August 7, 2008 10:15 PM
    consules suk
  • 3 Hide
    giovanni86 , August 7, 2008 10:31 PM
    I hope they stick to the PC. I use to be a die hard pirate, till i realized how the industry was being affected by it. Its been almost 4 years since i stopped pirating games and started buying them for the PC. I have no regrets only that the quality is much better and the experience is more thrilling when you actually go out and buy the game. Its like a kid in a candy store, i am for one never going back to pirating, i cannot wait to see what id has in store for the PC.
  • 2 Hide
    elbert , August 7, 2008 10:40 PM
    This would pack some weight if he said this back when doom or doom2 owned the PC gaming market. So yes I guess the PC gaming market has declined for your company. I think valve would need to make this statement at the very least. Point is a 3D shooter are a dime a dozen so do something new. I just about bet blizzard would have a good laugh at even the thought of PC gaming decline. Mr. Carmack create a top notch graphics shooter RPG or MMO and never stop innovation else you will never be number 1 again. Now I read this as Carmack admits PC gaming market is to competitive so they are moving down to the less competitive console market.
  • 3 Hide
    istrijan007 , August 7, 2008 11:51 PM
    Consoles are crap, the hardware that is built in them is already old, c'mon, radeon x1900 (xbox), nvidia 7800 (ps3)? i'm really pissed that even Carmack is thinkig of shifting on consoles...for us power users is even a bigger thrill to optimize a pc and tweak it to the highest edge to get a resonable framerate than to play that games
  • -2 Hide
    SPC , August 8, 2008 12:34 AM
    When my last PC was getting old, I decided to replace it with a laptop. The laptop does everything I want it to do, except game. So a couple of years go by, and I decide I want to get back into some casual gaming. I have about 2000 dollars to spend. Here are my options:

    1. Buy a PC with pretty much top of the line hardware.
    2. Buy a high def TV and a PS3.

    If I opt for 1, I get a great system that is obsolete in 2 or 3 years, at which point I could upgrade, but likely architectures are going to be different, I will want a better MB and faster Ram, I will definately want better video and a newer processor. In 2 to 3 years I would be looking at at least a grand to bring my system back to cutting edge.

    If I go with option 2, I have a TV which should last me for years, and a console that I can be assured will always play the games that are released for it, in the manner they were meant to be played. In 5 years, I will be able to play all the newest PS3 games. And when it comes time to upgrade in 5-6 years, I am out 400-500 dollars for a new console. Additionally I get BluRay and streaming content from my laptop to the TV.

    With the way the market is going, any game I might want to play on PC is going to be released on PS3. Fallout 3 was the only game i was concerned with, and as soon as I saw it was coming for PS3, my mind was made up. TV and console is just so much more cost effective. And for 500-600 dollars, you can buy a laptop that you can take with you anywhere, that will do everything you want besides game. It's a no brainer from my perspective.

    I can't speak for everyone, but that was my thought process. I have been an avid PC enthusiast since 1993. I have spent countless thousands on PC hardware since that time. I work in IT, network side, and I can bang out code when I need to. If anything, I am more biased towards PC than the average consumer, and still I went with a console.

    *Just one more note. I saw Crysis as a very bad thing for PC gaming. It laid it out so starkly. No matter how much money you spend, no matter how cutting edge your system, it will never be enough. The PC enthusiast is fighting a losing battle against the march of technology. I could have bought a nice C5 corvette for what I have spent on PC tech over the last 15 years. Crysis really put it in perspective for me.
  • 3 Hide
    jaragon13 , August 8, 2008 12:51 AM
    God,not like you could create a steam-like way of getting it,and then NOT complain about piracy.
  • 4 Hide
    dimaf1985 , August 8, 2008 1:22 AM
    SPCI saw Crysis as a very bad thing for PC gaming. It laid it out so starkly. No matter how much money you spend, no matter how cutting edge your system, it will never be enough. The PC enthusiast is fighting a losing battle against the march of technology.


    Crysis was an aberration. If you go to your local computer store (not a big box store) and spend 500-1000 dollars, which is the same as a console + accessories, you have yourself a PC that can play any game on the market, at full graphics, except for Crysis. Crysis struggles on a 5000 dollar machine, and what most people don't realize is that this is a product of badly optimized engine code. Crysis' performance is very buggy, i.e. some areas with a lot of foliage and NPCs give you a consistent 25 fps (dual core cpu, ati 4850), while other very similar areas drop down to 10 fps. This is completely unacceptable, and does not occur in a game with properly optimized code. Case in point, look out for Crysis Warhead, Far Cry 2, and Fallout 3 to have stunning graphics, while being released a full year after Crysis, and have lower recommended system requirements.

    You dont need to spend more money on a PC than a console, you simply need to be better educated about the PC to be able to weigh your options a little better. So it really doesn't help when of the industry's leaders makes statements like this because anyone who ISN'T well educated about a PC will now be even further deterred from even considering it as an gaming alternative. Shame on you John Carmack.

    What needs to happen is that, much like the subjects of finance and economics, the nation-wide school curriculum must implement computer studies as a required component. That way, kids will know a little bit about computer parts in general, and might actually start migrating back to the PC, once they realize that a PC has more functionality, better graphics, and a larger selection of games, and game genres.

    PC gaming is not dead. But it certainly needs revitalization, and Mr. Carmack, here, isn't helping.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 8, 2008 2:26 AM
    I pirate my games, But also buy good ones, Wolfenstein, Doom, Team Fortress 2, Call of Duty 4, Crysis. Well crysis wasnt spectacular but I did buy it. Games that kill the industry, AKA shat such as Jericho, and Turok only get affected because they blame piracy as a way to cope with their lackluster sales. I pirate every game because they dont make demos for it, if they did id say wow this is pretty good ill go out and buy that! AKA company of heroes PC magazine canada august 2006 and went off to buy it because of its kick ass demo!
  • 4 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , August 8, 2008 2:29 AM
    Crysis maybe ridiculous, but Intel, nvidia and AMD shared the blame as well. AMD didn't put up effective competition, and the end result is high price of gaming components from Intel and nvidia for the whole 2007. Quality CPUs and GPUs are only to be cheaper and more affordable in recent months. By the end of the year, it is possible to spend $600 to build a gaming PC that is twice as fast as the one Tom's team tried to build with
  • 1 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , August 8, 2008 2:34 AM
    $500 in April.

    Strange, half of my post is cut out.

    Anyway, console game market is about ten times larger than PC game market, and way more lucrative on per title bases. I don't blame game developing companies and game publishers such as EA and Ubisoft to focus on console. After all, they have to make tonnes of money in order to satisfy their board members and share holders.

    However, PC game market is still millions strong, and M$ did a good job with XNA so that porting Xbox game to PC isn't even hard. So, for game copmanies, release a PC version of Xbox game is "why-not" instead of "why". We'll see PC gaming to be revive again.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , August 8, 2008 2:38 AM
    Can anyone say Doom64? How about running around with a flashlight in Doom 3? Yeah, I'm, going to run out and spend $300+ on a console to play the next wonderful ID game. I don't see any problem with ID developing for consoles, but that when most video games are released they need top-o-the line equipment to play on full settings (Deus-Ex back in the day, UT, Doom3, Far Cry, F.E.A.R, Prey, Crysis, etc...), how good are these games going to be when they're run on 2+ year old console hardware? You can optimize all you want, you can't beat the power of newer equipment. Considering the XBOX runs Windows CE and directX, any improvements made to the 360 would be applicable to the PC. As for the PS3, well, that's a separate development cycle all together.
  • 3 Hide
    fulle , August 8, 2008 2:38 AM
    OK, so id is going to jump on the console bandwagon. Makes sense, really, that's where the money is for mediocre action titles.
  • -3 Hide
    Aintry , August 8, 2008 3:07 AM
    It's no longer cost-effective for me to upgrade my PC just so I can play the latest game on it. And no app I run causes more compatibility headaches for me than a computer game. The technical support forum has become the monument to computer-gaming insanity.

    I envy the guy who owns a console, who can go into an electronic entertainment store and buy a game right of the shelf, knowing that the game will run hassle-free when he gets home. I can't remember the last time, as a PC user, I had that luxury.
  • 2 Hide
    bf2gameplaya , August 8, 2008 3:18 AM
    I'm sorry John, but your skills peaked with Quake III and everything since has been vainglorious crap.

    The only thing that saved Doom3 from the dustbin was the exp pack Ressurection of Evil, but that merely showcased the bad lighting, bad skybox, bad triggers, bad physics and bad level design in the id tech 4 engine.

    Prey, Quake 4, Quake Wars, enemy territory, I think those are the ony games that use the id tech 4 engine and for good reason, it's boring.

    There's a reason Carmack is dissing the PC, he can't handle the new methodology.
  • 1 Hide
    SPC , August 8, 2008 3:34 AM
    I will chime in and agree with Aintry. As well, I wanted to answer some of the responses to my posts.

    I am not an idiot. I know quite a bit about PC hardware. Perhaps I am too demanding, but if or when I put together a new PC it has to satisfy a few criteria.

    1. 1920x1200 resolution. 1080p is something I want if I am going to spend the money on a monitor.

    2. A video card, processor and ram combo that will run new games at reasonable frame rates at 1920x1200 with the detail up and the bells and whistles on. 1:1 pixel mapping is important to me.

    Now, I have been called a fool for believing I need to spend 2000 dollars on a new PC. I should mention that price included 500-600 dollars for a monitor, which I refuse to skimp on. Still, that's 1400-1500 for gaming hardware. Yeah, you can probably do it cheaper, but again, I have certain expectations. First, I don't want to hear the thing. I spend more for fans to make sure I can't hear them. Same with power supply. Something I don't have to worry about with my PS3. I need a fast, but quiet hard drive. I had a system put together in Jan/Feb around an E6750 and an 8800GTS. Cost with taxes and shipping was right around 1200. Heck, a copy of Vista alone runs you 120 bucks, which I guess you could save if you were willing to pirate, but I am not.

    I got my 37" Sony Bravia for 899. I got my PS3 for 399, and spend about 50 more for HDMI and component video cables (for the cable box). That's 1350, for which I can play games, stream media, watch blu-rays, and enjoy the summer olympics in high def. I already have a laptop that does everything, including streaming media, I need it to do, except gaming. Plus I can carry the laptop with me wherever I go.

    Look, I know a lot of you are die hard PC fans. The fact is, the majority of the population is not. People laughed at me when I told them the Wii would outsell the PS3 and XBox 360. They couldn't understand that broader demographic appeal is far more important than power and graphics. Some here can laugh at me for my opinion on the PC vs TV+Console. I say there is far more value to be had in the latter, and there is far broader appeal. You may not like it, but the days of PC only titles, outside MMOs (and that may change eventually) are numbered.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , August 8, 2008 3:44 AM
    C'mon you guys, obviously it all about expanding your market. PC is much more versatile than console but if you want to play game, console is the way to go.

    Wait a while, give the console time to age and come back to me on this
  • 3 Hide
    gto127 , August 8, 2008 3:46 AM
    I wish ID would remake Doom and Doom II. Exactly the same game but a refresh of maps and of course incredible graphics. These games were so simple and easy to play compared to newer games which sometimes turn into a task instead of fun. I'm not saying the newer games are bad but I just think the industry needs to get back to the basics of simpler games to draw in more non gamers to make them into gamers. Like Nintendo did with the Wii. When Doom came out most any non gamer could pick it up and be playing in a few minutes. That's just not the case with most of the newer stuff out there today.
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