As part of a new interview with Gamasutra, Id legend John Carmack has been discussing the state of PC gaming, suggesting that, though key PC differentiators like connectivity and modding are being matched by next-gen consoles, World Of Warcraft
is a "train driving all the PC sales numbers altogether on gaming".
In the interview with Carmack and spouse Anna Kang discussing the newly launched
Id Mobile, part of the conversation turned to the state of PC gaming.
co-creator and legendary coder has long been associated with PC gaming, so his thoughts on the state of the market are particularly thought-provoking:
What do you think the state of PC gaming is right now? Is PC gaming as its own entity fading away in favor of it being just another platform option for console titles?
JC: It's definitely true that when you set out to make a new game now, you do wind up looking at the PC as it sits next to the console, and that drives design conditions.
If you make a cross-platform game, the PC is not going to look that much different there. There is a little bit better graphics fidelity, and it's lot more powerful than a high-end console. You certainly only have about half efficiency, but still, you get some influence. But it's not really drastic.
Historically, the real value of PC has been in connectivity, and in modification... but the latest generation of consoles is encroaching on that territory with all the options you've got on current consoles, the connectivity and the add-ons and things you can get there.
But on the other hand, if you look at what's really successful on the PC -- like World Of Warcraft
, that's an insanely successful product. It's like a train driving all the PC sales numbers altogether on gaming.
Just in terms of games that you sit down and play in the console mode, the PC probably doesn't have a huge amount of differentiation, and that's unlikely to change.
But the different areas where the PC is still standing on its own is MMOs, and a lot of casual games are interesting, too. The people that sit down to play games are predominantly playing them on consoles -- at least, higher-end games -- but the PC still has a strong enough margin to make games, and we continue to support it.
Are PC manufacturers doing enough to support PC gaming?
JC: You know, there's not that much that I would care to ask of the PC vendors, and so on. The interfaces we're working with are pretty good, and stability's pretty good on there. There's a lot less to talk about, because for the most part, things are generally working okay.
We still mostly run on XP here, we're still mostly GL, but the APIs and things are pretty much working. 10 years ago, I was having quarterly conferences with Intel and AMD, trying to get all the issues right with the processor. Then eventually, that stuff got fixed, and I didn't need to talk with them for a long time.
There was similar stuff with graphics cards issues... but now, for the most part, things work as you'd expect right now. So to some degree, the lack of excitement is a sign of the maturing of the industry and the tech base that we work on.
[Gamasutra's extensive interview with Carmack and Kang will run in full on Friday, spanning details of Id Mobile's plans for the near future, the advantages of going mobile and the possibilities of M-rated games on the DS.]