John Carmack Talks Wii U, Vita, Xbox One, and PS4
At his annual QuakeCon keynote, legendary programmer and id Software founder John Carmack weighed in on the current handheld systems and next-gen consoles with some frank opinions.
Carmack sounded disappointed with the commercial sales of Wii U and Vita. He mentioned that he had intended to bring Doom 3 BFG to Wii U and Vita, but moved away from that plan because "[they are] not generating enough interest on the publishing side of things…they are somewhat marginalized platforms."
While expressing concerns that the next-gen home consoles from Sony and Microsoft might see some difficulties in the market, he was generally very positive about both systems. "The big two are coming out with both barrels loaded and will have a big impact," said Carmack.
When asked to choose which system was more powerful, he deferred while praising Sony for the improvements its made over the PlayStation 3.
"Everyone would like me to come out with some A over B comparison between the two platforms." said Carmack. "To be really honest, I haven't done rigorous benchmarking so even if I wasn't [under a non-disclosure agreement] I couldn't give you a really honest answer. But they are very close, and very good. It's no secret that, in the last generation, I favored the 360 over the PS3. While there were certain things that Sony did well, for a game developer the 360 was a nicer platform to work on….Sony has made large strides. Their development tools came out of the gate much better than they ever had."
He was less charitable about Kinect, saying "I'm still not sold on Kinect. I realize that my needs and desires as a game developer might not cover the broad consumer base they are looking for… I think Kinect still has some fundamental limitations with the latency and the framerate… It's fundamentally a poor interaction. I used to give Apple a lot of grief about the one button mouse because anyone working with a mouse wants more buttons there. Well, Kinect is sort of like a zero button mouse with a lot of latency."
While id Software hasn't created huge blockbuster games in recent years, Carmack is a legend in the programming community for a reason. Perhaps more than any other person in the industry, the man understand the nuts and bolts of hardware and game engine programming. So, when he terms both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as "very good" that's an encouraging sign for gamers and the industry as a whole. It's also interesting to see once again how far Sony has come in terms of industry perception. As for his Kinect comments, it's not entirely surprising that he feels that way – though the applause his critical comments garnered at the event speak to the peripheral's inability to draw in hardcore gamers.