Why John Carmack Isn’t Eager For Next Gen

Why John Carmack Isn’t Eager For Next Gen

You might be thrilled with next gen — er, current gen. But John Carmack, ex-id Software star programmer and Oculus Rift guru, isn’t yet. He thinks we can still do more with last gen.

“The 360 and PS3 are far from tapped out in terms of what a developer could do with them,” he said, speaking to Wired on the occasion of Doom’s 20th anniversary. “There’s so much you can still do on the previous console generation. Just as you fully understand a previous generation, you have to put it away to kind of surf forward on the tidal wave of technology.”

Carmack brought the topic up when asked about id Software’s technically demanding past games — both Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, for example, required PCs to be upgraded to faster 286 and 386 processors, respectively. The decision to leave users of low-end systems behind, Carmack said, is something he “struggles with to this day.”

Kotaku commentariat, what do you think? Did the industry move on too soon? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

John Carmack Q&A [Wired, via GamesIndustry International]

Top image courtesy of XoZeN@flickr.


  • No its not too soon.
    Low res low fps games with huge budgets dueto strange aarchitecture was not cost effective. Too many good games could not sell enough to make a profit.
    The new consoles help solve that.

  • They had 10 years to reach the potential and yet they still didn’t. Does he honestly think it will be worth any bodies time trying to work on previous gen now? Consumers are moving on, as the industry has. It’s just natural progression.

  • Too soon? I’m fairly sure that last gen (PS3/360 anyway) was one of, if not THE longest generations to date. From a developer standpoint, I wouldn’t have a clue how much more they could wring out of the hardware – but games were starting to looking decidedly haggard towards the last 2 odd years before next gen dropped.

  • This gen has the potential to last a lot longer than the PS3 and 360 due to the simple fact that the architecture is very similar. Previously developers had to develop software that works on both the Cell processor and the 360 processor which are very different from each other. With multiple systems that’re more similar to each other as well as being basically PCs in console form I would’ve thought Cormack would’ve been jumping at the opportunities given with this new gen.

    For someone who’s been in the industry for over 2 decades I would’ve thought he would know what happens if you choose to sit still with what you’ve got rather than moving forward and embracing new technology. And anyway, it’s not like the millions of people who have PS3s and 360s are suddenly going to stop using those consoles because there’s new consoles out there. You can still develop for the last gen as it still has a good year or two left in it before the current gen overtakes it

    • Theoretically, when this gen is nearing the end they could just release an updated model with better specs. The games should have backwards compatibility, so this gen (PS4/Xbone) could last at least two gens. Devs would just code for the older one (PS4), and simply increase the graphical detail on the newer one. Could be good times.

  • Lets not forget the PS2 only halted production in late December 2012 !! And from memory (not that it has been terribly long) stores were still selling new release titles for them up until earlier this year.

    By that logic the PS3 and 360 still have another 15 years of life in them yet and will only be retired when the next gen again is underway………….to which I seriously doubt there will be a next gen but you get what I mean…

  • I’m with Carmack on this one. Current gen is still getting good games made for it, there’s no real need to move on. In a perfect world, they’d hold on to the current consoles until backwards compatibility in the next-gen ones becomes feasible, so people aren’t giving up their pre-existing libraries when they upgrade.

    • Why would they let you play your old games when the economy around a new console release relies on you buying new ones?

      • Not necessarily. There is the argument to be made that people would be more inclined to buy a console at launch if they can still play their old games. These numbers then boost confidence in the console meaning that publishers are more likely to back it.

        • True, but backwards compatibility also doesn’t come free, particularly with how different the architecture between current and next-gen is. There comes a point where the additional cost for including backwards compatibility outweighs any perceived benefit it may have, particularly when most people who’d be interested in such a thing already have consoles that will play those games right now. Sure, it’d be nice to be able to play my Xbox 360 games on my Xbox One (especially since I’ve had to pack up my 360 due to a lack of space), but I certainly wouldn’t pay an extra $100-$200 in order to do so.

    • Except the great games being released now are all struggling a bit. GTA, AC, Last of Us etc. are all amazing considering the hardware, but stutter/struggle etc. in enough places to make it start to feel creaky. The timing is just about perfect I think, I do wish that Sony went a little further with their graphics power for this Gen. MS is even more behind with the XB1. I was hoping for just a little more grunt from the new gen.

  • Why are we still quoting this guy on out of context stuff? Cool story bro, where’s your game that maxes out the PS3? :\

      • And that’s my point. The dude hasn’t released anything in years. If he’s talking about all this untapped potential, where are his tech demos?

        • I think he’s just scared that the new consoles will reduce the appeal of the Oculus Rift, which I think is already doing a lot worse than they hoped it would.

        • That’s the thing though. He doesn’t believe the last gen tech reached its maximum potential. Not by him, not by anyone else. If he had games or even tech demos that showed the maximum potential, then that would mean we reached that maximum potential.

          • I believe Stickman was going for a variation of the phrase “put up or shut up”.

            Carmack has claimed that there’s still untapped potential, but no evidence to actually back up these claims.

  • I think it’s great that they’ll still be developing for the current gen for a while yet, but no, I think it was time to move forward. We all want (or at least I do) 1080p at 60fps v-sync’d. It seems the current gen just doesn’t have the horsepower to do that or it would’ve been done at this point.

  • Took one look at the pic of him holding an apple product and was immediately not interested in what he had to say…

  • Yeah you could do more… so what?

    Part of releasing newer, more powerful consoles is about making life easier for developers.

    Yeah Crytek did amazing stuff with Crysis 3 on consoles, squeezing out every last bit of power they could. Or they could just have hardware better suited and not waste their time figuring out all sorts of tricky ways to simulate shaders and effects the new gen consoles can just do.

  • Come on John, there is no way the last gen could support the Oculus Rift. Get working with them, I want GT7 to work on the rift!!

  • This is out of context, c’mon Kotaku show some respect to this luminary of the industry.

    He was just remarking on the actual transition period every new generation has and having to re-learn a new platform.

    I don’t think he was saying that we shouldn’t move forward, just that its disrupting when we do.

  • The new consoles just make existing games easier (and therefore cheaper) to produce.
    Sure there is still untapped power in the current consoles, but developers are still spending heaps of time and money dealing with speed and memory which they wouldn’t have to on the new ones.

    As long as everyone doesn’t expect all the new games to be some giant leap ahead, it’s good for all concerned.

  • I Just want a console that doesn’t take 5+ mins to boot up. IM LOOKING AT YOU, MY XBOX 360!

  • The 360 and PS3 are far from tapped out in terms of what a developer could do with them
    Off the top of my head only two games from Id were released on the PS3, not sure about Xbox though since I’m on my phone. Don’t lecture other developers if you weren’t prepared to do the same…

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!