John Carmack says NGP, 3DS may be last dedicated gaming handhelds

With the iPhone and Android becoming viable gaming platforms, the days of portable gaming devices may be numbered, opines id Software mastermind John Carmack.

Back in the day, you used to need to buy a PDA, a mobile phone, and a portable game system to get everything you can get out of today's smartphone. There was a universal understanding that any device trying to function as more than one of the above would never be able to do either one sufficiently.

Looking back in history, products like Nokia's N-Gage gaming phone, HP's iPaq phone, and Tiger Telematic's Gizmondo all eventually failed because they tried to do too much.

These days, it's a completely different industry, and if you have a handheld gadget that isn't multi-functional, it's laughed off the market. Because of that, Carmack says, there will be no use at all for game devices that aren't phones, or at least multi-purpose like the iPod Touch.

Consumers want more out of their gadgets these days, he said, adding, "If that's what the consumers are going to trend towards on there, there may not be much as developers we can do about that. You don't always get to build pyramids just because you want to."

Carmack seemed a bit disappointed that the market is turning this way. He said that, at most, future "gaming" devices will only be 80% focused on games, which could potentially disrupt developer interest and sacrifice quality in the long run.

But on the flip side, it means more people are buying game systems, so there's more money to be made, and the incentive is higher.

Nevertheless, the PSP successor and 3DS will certainly still attract a lot of interest. It's what happens after they've run their course that will be interesting to watch.

[Source: VG247]

Feb 10, 2011


  • MattyJ2009 - May 30, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    I also agree with everyone else that the iOS and Andriod are NOT gaming platforms. I really hate when gaming websites have iOS and Andriod beside the PS3, Wii, 360, PSP, and 3DS!!!! I want my own dedicated gaming machine and not a stupid phone.
  • AWBrawler - February 18, 2011 6:57 p.m.

    They seem to forget that Gaming handhelds, (especially from Nintendo) Always seem to add some new gaming feature that phones don't have. For example no phone or ipod i kno of has Street pass, spot pass, 3D, or Augmented reality. So these devices will always have an audience. Simple as that.
  • HeXoSKEL3t0n - February 13, 2011 12:58 p.m.

    A smartphone can never replace dedicated gaming handhelds... The ds and psp has exclusives such as Littlebigplanet, mario, pokemon etc.And they also lack proper gaming controls such as L R buttons or analog sticks. touch screen analog sticks just feel different from the real thing...
  • kezins - February 11, 2011 6:45 p.m.

    I don't think this will be the case unless they come out with some amazing batteries in the future. Right now, I don't game much on my phone and that's because I don't want to kill the battery. The quality of games available on iPhone and Android is getting better, but it's not good enough. Maybe it will be in the future.. who knows?
  • RavielDeSilverlake - February 11, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    Multi-tasking and multi-purpose are good. But it's always about the battery issue or so. We can't always bring the charger with us everywhere and that's so not good for the life of the product. Beside, single-purpose always led to a powerful device in term of need. So only-gaming device will still live for a long time. After all, who need a macbook because it's can't play a lot of games, right?
  • CandiedJester - February 11, 2011 5:41 a.m.

    I prefer to keep my gaming consoles separate from everything else, and I'm probably not the only one. Sometimes I game to get away from all this information overload nonsense. I just want something that can play games, nothing else. I don't need any fluff. If they made something that was multipurpose and I happened to buy it I know I would probably only use the gaming part of it, and rarely or ever use ANYTHING else on the darn thing. So I realize something like that is possible, I guess, and some people would probably buy it, I wouldn't, and I personally hope that it either doesn't happen or it's a fad and it goes away and portable gaming eventually reverts back to simplicity.
  • markshell - February 11, 2011 2:48 a.m.

    Handhelds won't die. They exist because they target different consumers. There are lots of flash games, brilliant flash games, around the internet for years. They didn't kill console gaming. Or PC gaming. They are just different kinds of games. They are fun and all, but they can't compare to machines that are made for gaming, made by companies that are way more experienced and devoted to games. The Iphone is cool and has lots of nice games but it can't compete with the console and handheld investment in new technologies to bring new ways to interact with games like handhelds. What I truly believe is that handhelds will have shorter lifespans than they used to, because consumers and the technology are changing way faster nowadays.
  • venom65437 - February 11, 2011 1:44 a.m.

  • AuthorityFigure - February 11, 2011 1:42 a.m.

    The only fault with that argument is that dedicated games devices require a long-lasting battery, and so sharing that battery with all the redundant features that a phone requires means that any gamer is limited by the all-in-one functionality.
  • Crabhand - February 10, 2011 11:06 p.m.

    I'm personally a little disappointed about the impending death of the dedicated gaming handheld. It may just be a simple minded resistance to change, but gaming handhelds feel like an important part of what makes gaming truly unique. In twenty years we may lament the loss of the dedicated gaming handheld because it stood strong for so many years against the flippant whims of the mainstream market. It's too early to be calling Armageddon, but I do hope such an iconic era of video game history doesn't end so soon.
  • justinbanda - February 10, 2011 10:28 p.m.

    The Apple/Google-hating rhetoric is weird. I don't understand why people take digs at the iPhone/Android when they haven't played a single game on either. Most people who say that probably think of the cheap Flash games from the pre-Razr days when they hear about mobile gaming. It's because of mediums like the iPhone that indie game developers have thrived. Plants vs. Zombies, Angry Bird, and Doodle Jump are prime examples of indie mobile games that have supported and encouraged indie console gaming like Braid, Limbo, World of Goo, and Super Meat Boy. Don't dismiss mobile gaming without sampling from the best. I'm one of those people who carries around an iPhone and a DS (never really got into the PSP), and the only thing still keeping me from tossing my DS is Pokemon. I'm not planning on getting a 3DS because of the price, battery life, and other random quibbles like my bad eyesight. At this point, when my DS breaks, I'm not replacing it. I can understand where Carmack is coming from. I don't want to carry around double the devices when just one serves most of my needs. Carmack's right: the industry is already moving toward multiple-use gaming consoles. The DSi's Facebook and Opera features, along with the PSPhone, are real-world instances of this.
  • Pruman - February 10, 2011 10:19 p.m.

    @bobob101: Puzzle Quest 2 is a ten dollar game, and my non-gaming girlfriend has sunk at least 30 hours into it. What's the problem with cheap games again?
  • Shagnasty - February 10, 2011 10:18 p.m.

    Everybody's freaking out about the change of handheld platforms. How is development moving from one to another equated to shitty games? If these people make big, lovely games, they will put the same effort into a smartphone game. Rage, Dead Space, CoD:Zombies, Zenonia, all these are proof that it's not the device, it's the developers. A great developer on a different platform will still make great games.
  • D0CCON - February 10, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    I don't get the itouch hate. Everybody seems to cherish indie developers and games and then makes fun of the second best platform for indie developers and games (PC remaining number 1). Sure there's a lot of worthless crap on the istore, but that's also true with the DS library. If you want to find gems on the Istore, it doesn't take much work. Now that I have an Itouch, I can't believe I made fun of it so much before. This also isn't saying that Nintendo and Sony handhelds are dying. They'll have more stuff in them in the future. Our current idea of handhelds will die, but handhelds themselves will evolve, and I think the evolution will be for the better.
  • bobob101 - February 10, 2011 10:02 p.m.

    I pray a future never occurs when the main the areas publishers focus the most on will be five dollar games, not 50 dollar games.
  • shawksta - February 10, 2011 10 p.m.

    Carmack your just Pushing it because you made a game and think "Realistic" means "awesome graphics" but your wrong and the game sucks. Its true that people might put too much than the actual games *COUGH*PSP*COUGH but NGP looks promising and Nintendo's #1 Goal is to provide LOTS of games, they win in variety in their handhelds, so they will always be dedicated.
  • Pruman - February 10, 2011 9:58 p.m.

    I agree with Carmack, seeing as my new iPad with its 99 cents to 10 dollar games has effectively killed any interest I may have had in these new handhelds. Oh, and the fact that I've played all of the games coming to them before, while something new and fun comes to the iPad what seems like every day.
  • 510BrotherPanda - February 10, 2011 9:54 p.m.

    If this is truely the way things are headed for the handheld market, I'm going back to my old green-screen Game Boy. It's one of the few machines I still trust in this "tech age"... But Carmack is right in saying doing too much on one system lessens the personal worth of all its parts. It's the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" incarnate.
  • shawksta - February 10, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    A Smartphone cant mimic what Nintendo and Sony's Handhelds can do, they will always be on top. Phones are getting smarter but also know that Nintendo and Sony are both getting smarter too in the game department, a phone will never do what 3DS and NGP will do so stop dreaming.
  • ChiefLethal - February 10, 2011 9:45 p.m.

    It doesn't matter if Androids and iphones/pads aren't gaming consoles. The fact remains that many developers/publishers are pushing content towards these devices. Will they overtake the console market? Maybe. You have to consider that Nintendo, Sony, and MS are uninterested in putting out next gen consoles. So the NGP and 3DS might be it from Sony and Ninetndo. Don't worry about MS entering this race; they fail abysmally every single time they try to pump out new hardware. 360 is a god damn anomaly in my opinion. I really want to know what these companies plan on doing in terms of releasing next gen content. MS releasing a Kinect Gears, but doing virtually nothing else with their other exclusives. Sony has some exclusives in the pipe (Resistance, Uncharted, Killzone) but I don't think their exclusives or Move will take them through 2015. Same goes for MS. No one wants to play Kinect versions 360 exclusives. PC or bust, imo.

Showing 1-20 of 32 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000