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John Carmack: PC Is Not the "Leading Platform" for Games

| 10 Oct 2011 15:30

John Carmack admits the launch of Rage was a "cluster !@#$" but says the PC is not the "leading platform for games."

If you purchased and played the PC version of Rage on launch day, there's a good chance you ran into issues including tearing and some of the most brutal texture pop-in I've ever seen. It quickly became clear that drivers were to blame, good information to have but not terribly useful in practical terms because it left gamers effectively dead in the water. But how did id, known above all else for its extreme technical competence, let it get out the door in that shape in the first place?

id was actually "quite happy" with the state of the game on its test systems, but those were sporting drivers that had gone through "significant internal changes" to maximize performance. "We knew that all older AMD drivers, and some Nvidia drivers would have problems with the game, but we were running well in-house on all of our test systems," Carmack told Kotaku. "When launch day came around and the wrong driver got released, half of our PC customers got a product that basically didn't work. The fact that the working driver has incompatibilities with other titles doesn't help either. Issues with older/lower end/exotic setups are to be expected on a PC release, but we were not happy with the experience on what should be prime platforms."

Speaking of prime platforms, Carmack also made it clear that the PC, in general, is no longer one of them. "We do not see the PC as the leading platform for games," he said. "That statement will enrage some people, but it is hard to characterize it otherwise; both console versions will have larger audiences than the PC version. A high-end PC is nearly ten times as powerful as a console and we could unquestionably provide a better experience if we chose that as our design point and we were able to expend the same amount of resources on it."

"Nowadays most of the quality of a game comes from the development effort put into it, not the technology it runs on," he continued. "A game built with a tenth of the resources on a platform ten times as powerful would be an inferior product in almost all cases."

It's a perfectly reasonable position to take but a little infuriating nonetheless for PC gamers who found that the launch version of Rage only allowed for the most basic adjustment of video settings, hamstringing any attempts to correct, or at least mitigate, its many problems. Fortunately, a patch was released over the weekend which will clear up several technical issues and also allow users to adjust video settings including texture cache, vsync and anisotropic filtering. The "massive" update is available now via Steam.

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