Carmack: Cloud Significant Part of Landscape

In a recent interview with IndustryGamers, id Software's John Carmack said that cloud gaming will eventually be a significant part of the landscape. Why? Because ultimately convenience always wins out with consumers, even if it means the overall quality is taken down a few notches. Look at how much easier it is to load up FarmVille – it doesn't require installation or a hefty set of system specs, yet has seemingly breathed new life back into PC gaming.

"Consumers have shown over and over again that convenience can often more than offset some quality issues, and there will be significant convenience wins possible there over optical media or digital downloads," he said. "I think this is inevitable, but I wouldn't really want to be placing a bet on what the adoption rate is going to be."

Until then, Carmack said the immediate future should consist of another console run, big MMOs for PCs, more movement towards digital distribution, smartphones encroaching on dedicated gaming territory, and so on. "Blockbuster games will continue to increase in development cost, but gaming should continue to have a much more vibrant "low end" than, say, the movie industry," he said.

Outside his predictions, the interview actually covered numerous personal topics such as what drew him into the gaming industry, what career he would have chosen other than what he's doing now, his proudest moment so far, and even covers his personal favorite titles. But when asked to reveal something that most people in the industry don't know about him, Carmack admitted that he had a lot of fun doing metal fabrication work for Armadillo Aerospace.

"The full time staff there has grown to the point that I'm not involved much in the metal cutting anymore, but for several years I would come in from the garage or back from the shop with lots of little metal chips stuck to my clothes, to the consternation of my wife," he said. "Taking a solid block of metal and turning it into a precision machined part and a big pile of metal chips is a thrill very different than the ethereal world of software."

So what would Carmack be doing had he not taken residence in the gaming industry? He said he could find enjoyment in almost any engineering task.

"Graphics is fun, but so are any number of tasks in software engineering," he said. "Operating system work, compilers, network optimization, data mining, embedded system control, or any of hundreds of other things offer challenges and rewards. More physical based engineering tasks are slower paced than software engineering, but the same principles apply -- figure out how to do what you want with the tools you have available, and optimize towards some cost function of time, resources, and reliability."

And after programming classic titles like DOOM, Wolfenstein and Quake, what are some of his favorite titles? "The Mario games remain my personal favorites," he admitted, adding that he finally finished Super Mario 3 just last year.

  • house70
    Yep... he needs to go back to machining. He's just not that into PC gaming anymore.
  • sceen311
    He's right, and it's part of the future decline of Desktops(or pc's if your those one idiots that said pc's were going away(pc's actually being defined as Personal Computers, will only see a rise for the foreseeable future(smartphones, tablets, and the like))).
  • killerclick
    has been
  • doorspawn
    If it's convenience that's selling these things, why not think of stripping the biggest inconvenience from most mainstream games - the DRM.

    I know nothing about farmville, but it can't be any harder to render the game from local data than to render it from online data. Just because offline games are typically lower spec'd doesn't mean that local games can't have those specs.

    As for games needing installation, it should be possible to run on a fake filesystem that downloads (and keeps) any file it needs so that you can start playing immediately while you slowly download all the content you need.

    Online profiles and servers, sure. But the cloud is offering nothing that can't be done better locally if devs care to do it.
  • kcorp2003
    wait FarmVille brings back new life to PC gaming? WTF! i much rather for PC gaming be dead. i'll switch to console before that even happens.
  • doorspawn
    That should have been "Just because ONline games are typically lower spec'd", sorry.
  • flachet
    Is he on crack? They must not be putting data caps in where he is. Cloud for business might be viable, but in the home market the cloud is dead....

    All of these game company's with online games/content and all that better start rethinking their business models or start fighting like hell against the ISP's.
  • legacy7955
    His opinion is irrelevant.

    The cloud IS dead for home use. Excessive caps prove this.

    But the marketing/consulting geniuses just keep banging their heads against the wall of reality. Only in America.
  • _Cubase_
    With the news about everything getting hacked lately (namely, Sony) do people really think that they can continue to convince users that cloud computing is all that it's cracked up to be?
  • memadmax
    uh, no. Cloud computing is a no go. And this guy is an idiot if he's gonna put source code for his games on the cloud...