Carmack: PCs Not Important As Consoles

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • deadliest
    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 !!!
  • Preytor
    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...
  • ^ some one needs to shoot you... your making way to much sense
  • eltouristo
    consules suk
  • giovanni86
    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.
  • elbert
    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.
  • istrijan007
    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
  • SPC
    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.
  • jaragon13
    God,not like you could create a steam-like way of getting it,and then NOT complain about piracy.
  • dimaf1985
    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.