PS4 and Xbox 720 won't be a massive leap forward according to John Carmack. Unlike (surprisingly) the thing he's working on

John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and one of the game industry's most important luminaries, doesn't think the next generation of games consoles will offer a significant leap in gameplay over the existing crop of machines. Speaking with, Carmack said:

"Any creative vision that a designer could come up with, we can do a pretty good job representing on current generation and certainly on PC. In many ways I am not all that excited about the next generation. It will let us do everything we want to do now, with the knobs turned up. If you take a current game like Halo which is a 30 hertz game at 720p; if you run that at 1080p, 60 frames with high dynamic frame buffers, all of a sudden you've sucked up all the power you have in the next-generation. It will be what we already have, but a lot better."

For the less technically-minded, what Carmack is saying is that the current generation has difficulty rendering everything in full HD at a high frame-rate. A few games, like WipEout HD, manage to render everything in full HD and at silky-smooth 60 frames every second. But with most other titles, it's a trade-off between one or the other, or in the cases of especially graphically-intense games like Uncharted, both are sacrificed in order to display the gameworld at the level of detail required.

Above: Uncharted 3. Will games look vastly better than this on next-gen machines? Carmack is suggesting they'll just be smoother, slicker and higher reolution, but essentially the same

The implication is that next-gen machines will be able to run games like Uncharted in glorious full HD, with all the lighting and filter effects on full quality and at a super-smooth frame-rate… but that’s it. No fundamental leap like the first time we saw polygonal 3D on our home consoles, or when texture-mapped graphics made us think we were looking at real video footage.

Instead, he says the next genuine leap for gaming will come from something more like Nintendo's motion control, which shook up the entire industry while using old hardware tech to do it – something like Virtual Reality. It all stems from the prototype headset that Carmack has been working on and was showing off so enthusiastically at E3 this year.

Above: Look closely through either of the eye holes here - you can actually see the future

"[Gaming on next generation consoles] will look a lot better, it will move towards the movie rendering experience and that is better and better, but it's not like the first time you've ever played an FPS. It won't be like putting yourself in the virtual world. All the little things you can do on that, such as playing an audio cue over here, and turning your attention to that. That will be more of the discontinuous step like we've had with first going to 3D or first using a mouse," he elaborated.

Virtual Reality has long been the joke of the industry because it forever seems to be 'hotly tipped to take off' without ever demonstrating anything worthwhile. However, people who have sampled Carmack's take on the technology have come away genuinely impressed. The technology of Carmack's headset reduces lag between movement of your head and seeing that movement played out in front of your eyes to the point where the brain can be convinced that it's looking at a solid world. The head moves independently to your gun, the display is 3D and fills your entire field of vision… it's how VR should probably have been done in the first place. Hollander saw it at E3:

However, there is one thing that could potentially prove Carmack's statement about next-gen incorrect. Only yesterday, Sony's Andrew House told MCV: "The right time to talk about new advances in hardware is when you can demonstrate a significant leap on the current experience, and something that is going to be attractive. That remains our philosophy. Beyond that we have nothing to say at this point."

You could conclude from those words that PS4 will offer a significant leap, despite all of the above. Unless you put two and two together (and make five) when Carmack says: "As a fully consumer thing, it is hard to imagine [the VR headset] happening in less than a year. Sony is already interested in this thing, and they are interested in seeing how they want to follow this up. I can easily imagine something like that. Sony conceivably could have a product out in the next year. I have no inkling on internal plans, but as a company I think they can do it."

So PS4 will be based on Carmack's Virtual Reality technology, then? We're 90% joking, but the other 10% says we'd actually be very interested in that.

Sources: GamesIndustry, MCV


  • dfherrera - November 14, 2013 1:34 p.m.

    I believe the future is in services like onlive and Gaikai where the rendering happens on the server. I believe at the end of the day it's the game that matters not the hardware it runs on. But this can't happen yet till most gamers have high speed internet. I give it a few more years tech is not mature enough yet its getting there.
  • zoigburn - June 24, 2012 1:37 a.m.

    another gay purveyor of DRM has DRM eliminated piracy? no. It encourages "licensees" to switch to cracked software. bravo drm fag would rip on platforms (for the cretins: this is not an endorsement of either drm or piracy. cracking isn't piracy)
  • DickSingh666 - June 22, 2012 7:58 a.m.

    PC gaming will always be better than console gaming, if you play games and you think otherwise, you shouldn't be playing games. Yes PC has better control and graphics and a genuinely better experience. But has anyone here actually thought about what it cost to keep your PC hardware up to date to run the latest games at their best quality. A fucking shitload of money, which many people cannot afford (plus throw in the fucked up economy). Yes a few hardcore gamers have $3000 rigs, but the majority wont be playing games at their highest detail settings when it comes out. Prime example, Crysis. You don't buy a car when you know your going to have to swap out the transmission just so it can keep up on the road, you buy a car which lasts you years and requires minimal care. Comparing PC to console is like comparing a Ferrari to a Civic, obviously Ferrari is better, provides more customization for the driver and so on, but how many Ferrari's do you see rolling around compared to Honda Civics, it's the same concept. You get what you pay for, if your rich and can wipe your ass with money, PC gaming is for you, if your like me and actually have to decide what game you wanna buy because you can only afford one, im pretty sure it's all about the consoles for you. I have an 2.2 ghz-I7 macbook pro with a 1gb gddr5 graphics card with 4 gb of ram, it costs like $2500 (yes i know macbooks suck ass, i needed one for school dont judge me, i long for the day i have an alienware in room), and cant run vanilla skyrim on the highest settings, let alone after i put on some mods. Plus you have compatibility issues, driver updates which conflict with other games, etc. And some of the biggest games on PC, are not graphically intensive (WoW, League of Legends, Diablo, Starcraft anyone?) Everything in the world comes downn to one thing. Money. It is much cheaper to create a game for xbox 360 or ps3 than pc, plus having perfected engines and code for their respective consoles, mastering the hardware, and not having optimize their code for new hardware, developing for consoles is just much easier. Im going to school for game developement ( i want to be a modeler or texture artist ), it takes fucking long to put out a game, and ALOT of work, and devs only get paid when they release a game that sells, which takes time and again, lots of money to do (paying artists and coders, marketing, licensing engines and other things,etc). I got way off topic lol, next gen wont be for awhile, and for what Carmack has said, i think his head is to far up his ass. Just look at Watch Dogs, and that is slated for PS3 and Xbox 360. As for virtual reality, im pretty sure we have the tech that lets you SEE into a virtual world, but controlling your character within this 3d space is the issue, which i think we are nowhere near close to tapping.
  • burnlife308 - June 21, 2012 2:25 p.m.

    I beleive consoles are holding back the future of gaming their should be a universal console for PC, Microsoft and Sony. With the options to upgrade the GPU or CPU and MB or whatever when you want to upgrade. This would make it far easier for dev companies to put their time and money into one platform instead of doing it on one then waste time and money porting it onto other devices. Sony, Microsoft and Steam could still exist just instead of putting their time into platform advances they could fund dev companies for games build an amazing U.I so the gamer will want their U.I for their console instead of the competitors charging a yearly subscription for the U.I you choose to use on your console. You may also have the option to use multiple U.I's say if you like Sony's U.I but you want Microsoft's Streaming TV services. Also any game developed will be able to play on your console say if Sony funded the development of the game but you use Steams U.I you can still play it cause either way Sony is getting the $$$. You may also have the option of using any controller you please they should all be BT compatible and even still make gimmicks like Kinect or Move. I just believe the the whole platform should be a generalized open code system like openGL. Each of the 3 companies can have 1 representative from each company to approve games DLC patches and so forth . The voting system could be majority wins even if say Sony votes no but M$ and Steam vote yes for a new indie game then it will still be in the store and will be able to download on any U.I. They can split the money 3 ways when publishing companies put a game in the store for sale even if say Sony funded the game the other 2 companies would still make their initial % of $$$ for each sale of a game and of course Sony would make the rest just like a dev companies submitted game. I believe companies would take alot more risks with games which would benefit the consumer with games that would never be funded in todays marketplace. With this system in place the companies funding the game would be more persuaded to fund the project. Their would be many benefits with this general platform in palce much larger multiplayer communities which would make for a longer running game being able to develop more DLC's. I believe this next idea would be the most beneficial to the consumer and publishing developing companies but would be the hardest to convince them. I would live to see an open mod tool system on any game. Each mod would be submitted and if approved for the store can go on sale with the mod developer making a % of sales income. This would make companies put alot more time and effort into initial game releases and instead of having the same game with a few upgrades released every year you would watch the game grow over years with participation of the community and developers. With the mod sales supporting the companies future title that they can develop over 3-5 years with financial backing threw mod sales. The intial cost may be pricey but they could have 3 diffrent systems at release for each price range and over time you can upgrade as need be. The lowest tier system would still be superior in graphics to the current PS3. So everybody that is pleased with PS3's current graphics would have no problem with the lower system but still enjoying the same gameplay and fun as someone that has a top of the line system. Over time if you want better graphics and sound or multiple screens then you can upgrade when ready. Which in the long run would be cheaper then buying a new system every 8 years plus all new games controllers and if you want to play a game that your console does not make then you got to purchase a whole other console. I don't see to many negatives to this and I believe the positives out weight the negatives greatly and it will only get better over time.
  • larkan - June 21, 2012 8:05 a.m.

    Fuck Carmack. He blamed all of his problems with his overhyped RAGE on piracy, poor video driver coding, and PC gamers in general. In truth, RAGE was a generic tech demo that failed miserably due to the fact that he lost any talent or sense after Doom II.
  • falcon4196 - June 20, 2012 10:23 p.m.

    VR is fun for about 10 before the headache kicks in. People are reticent enough about 3d glasses. It hard to imagine VR helmet catching on anytime soon.
  • BrunDeign - June 20, 2012 7:52 p.m.

    This article explains quite nicely why the WiiU won't be facing the same problem as the Wii. The graphics on the next Xbox or Playstation can't possibly have the same gap between them and the WiiU as the 360 and PS3 did with the Wii. It's just an unrealistic assumption to make.
  • avantguardian - June 20, 2012 3:41 p.m.

    should be: "PS4 and Xbox 720 won't be a massive leap forward according to EVERYONE." we all accepted this some time ago, did we not? the diminishing leaps from generation to generation have done nothing to encourage hope of a "massive leap" in game tech; at this point, or at any point in the future. of course, i would love to eat crow on this.
  • aberkromby - June 20, 2012 1:42 p.m.

    Hasen't nintendo already proved that virtual reality sucks?
  • Tjwoods18 - June 20, 2012 12:40 p.m.

    Give me a good story and I could care less about graphics.
  • jackthemenace - June 20, 2012 2:20 p.m.

    Agreed- although, they are still somewhat important. I'm totally fine with having PS2 graphics, provided they run smoothly. I'd much rather have crapy graphics that run fluidly, than super-HD that lags and skips ever other frame. And definitely screw these gimmicks. I firmly believe that Virtual Reality isn't going to be feasible for a while, due to a space issue. If someone's just wearing a helmet and using a controller, the virtual reality's not really very believable- but if they're actually moving around, where are the going to get the physical space to move around and explore in a game like Skyrim?
  • Dadyo238 - June 20, 2012 12:04 p.m.

    So... a modern-day Virtual Boy?
  • Purgatori - June 20, 2012 11:04 a.m.

    Am I the only one who thinks that virtual reality gaming is overrated? Also, I can't even imagine how much it will ultimately cost to own a system like that. Gaming is already overpriced as it is.
  • tyler_14_420 - June 20, 2012 11:30 a.m.

    I like the idea of VR gaming. It's an ambitious goal, I admit. But for the first half of the 1900s, going to the moon was just as ambitious, hell, even moreso. The idea of going to the FREAKING MOON? YEAH RIGHT! But it happened. We already have devices that can send electrical impulses through a person's tongue that stimulate sight. In short, it makes a blind person able to see through a camera. Hopefully, in the future, we can just tape some electrical receptors to ourselves, and we'll be able to experience a virtual world.
  • garnsr - June 20, 2012 9:25 a.m.

    We only really need next gen when they can come up with new types of games, but I don't know what new kind of game anyone could really come up with. Once we moved into 3D it seems like we've covered pretty much all the types of game you can do. And virtual reality games won't be new types of games, it'll just be you being more inside Assassin's Creed, looking up at the buildings aroud you, but doing the same things. It's too bad everyone just poopooed 3D on PS3, and just in general, since it's supposed to get you into the game world a little bit more.
  • winner2 - June 20, 2012 8:54 a.m.

    It seems kind of nice to me that how no matter how much everyone gets argumentative about games and gaming hardware, they always calm down and relax once they're playing something fun. It seems to me that gaming has become almost like a system of good cop/bad cop for some people.
  • ObliqueZombie - June 20, 2012 8:53 a.m.

    That's... kinduv the point. I want my games to run the way most PC games run, and that's it. I don't need a "new way to play my games." Wii? Kinect? Move? This shit doesn't matter. I just want a controller in my hand, and a HD TV in front of my face. That said, I'll be switching over to PC here really soon (IT FINALLY SHIPPED), so it won't concern me as much. The only real "next-gen" console I'm intrigued by--probably because it's the only one announced and shown--is the WiiU. And that's from one game, ZombiU. No telling what it was to offer, let alone how far behind its hardware is. PC it is.
  • ParagonT - June 20, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    "if you run that at 1080p, 60 frames with high dynamic frame buffers, all of a sudden you've sucked up all the power you have in the next-generation." That seems like a pretty ambiguous and vague statement. That seems like a guesstimation he's making. I guess with that mindset, we never should have advanced in our systems ever, because I bet every cycle a developer said the same thing. I infer that he's not including the fact that consoles do not alone make better games, but developers do as well. Consoles give developers better parameters to achieve better graphics and things of the such, but its up to the developers to make better models and push the systems. So no, it's not just about the "fps and pixels" consoles can provide, it's about wanting for developers to push the envelope in textures, models, physics, objects available at once, and much more. So him saying that it would be the same game but higher resolution makes it seem like he's inferring that himself and other developers do not want to add anything more to games but those few things. Which to me sounds like a leveling off of game advancement and development. Not to say that it's developers fault or anything, but people need to understand that it's not that newer consoles cannot offer more advanced games, but it's because developers are hitting their threshold, limit of their ability/skills, and/or trade of between profit and money spent on games. If gamers and developers become too complacent with their hardware, gaming will never evolve. Developers will be much happier getting paid the same, and doing "less work" on games rather than keep pushing the boundaries. What I mean about "less work" is that the longer you have to get used to a system and include advancements in programs for development in time, is what makes it "less work". Most things become easier in time, although making games is no easy task to begin with I mind you. [Ease of development/more profit vs. spending] and [better hardware parameters/what consumers can afford] are what keeps gaming going, when one of these cannot be met, that's when gaming levels off for awhile. It's a juggling act between developers, consumers, and the hardware, when one cannot keep up with the other, that's when gaming is held back in an alternative way of explanation.
  • gazzc - June 20, 2012 2:44 p.m.

    I think what he says does make sense. Due to the fact that it is making plenty of money, sony and microsoft are trying to drag out the current generation of consoles out as long as they possibly can (just look at their complete silence on this issue at E3). The problem is that game graphics are still constantly advancing and whilst this is fine on the PC where hardware upgrades are always available, over on consoles things have to start scaling back (graphical details, resolution, textures, frame rates) jut to keep old hardware running newer games. This is resulting in a situation where that by the time the new consoles do get here the hardware will already be lagging behind what is possible graphically which will again leave a choice of smooth high res gameplay at current levels of image quality or more detailed graphics at low resolution and low fps.
  • bboyd - June 20, 2012 7:56 a.m.

    Unless, you know, game developers continue to understand that not all games require 60 FPS. A 360 or PS3's games are just the same as PS2 but in HD with a silky smooth frame rate, right? Um... no. His argument, while it may be true in some cases, is just silly.

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