Carmack Thinks Sony Will Go “Next-Gen” First


Legendary PC developer John Carmack thinks that Sony will be the first to release a new console whenever the next “next-generation” rolls around.

Speaking with CD Action, Carmack – technical director at id Software and gaming pioneer – said that he saw Sony as firing the next major salvo in the console war:

“The whole jockeying for who’s going to release the first next gen console is very interesting and pretty divorced from the technical side of things,” said Carmack. “Whether Sony wants to jump the gun to prevent the same sort of 360 lag from happening to them again seems likely.”

Indeed, Sony’s late launch of the PS3 against competitor Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is seen as one of the reasons that the glossy black monolith struggled to gain a foothold at first. The PS3 came out of the gate with a relatively meager software lineup, and was pitted against a 360 that was entrenched with a year’s worth of games and a year’s worth of the market share. The PS3 has been playing catch-up ever since, and Sony’s market share has dropped drastically against its competitors, especially given the dominance of its PS2 a generation before.

Carmack’s prediction, though, seems to fly in the face of Sony’s stated long-term strategy, which involves a ten-year-plan that sees the PS3 being supported through 2015 at the very least. Still, many analysts have predicted that this generation would be significantly longer than prior cycles – the main change from generation to generation has been graphical, and as games approach genuine photorealism, well… where do we go from where? Many see new developments such as Project Natal or Sony’s own motion control as being the equivalent of a brand-new console generation.

On the one hand, it’s easy to see where Carmack is coming from. Letting the 360 establish itself was a huge hurdle for the PS3 to overcome right out of the gate, and arguably one that it hasn’t quite recovered from even yet. It’s understandable that Sony’s top brass would be wary of letting it happen again, of course.

On the other hand, I think they’d be just as wary of throwing their long-term plan for the PS3 into the proverbial wind, no? Not only would it give their competitors (and, let’s face it, we journalists) nigh-endless ammunition for criticism, Sony has sunk millions-if-not-billions of dollars into the PS3, and they’d be unlikely to just write off the expenses and call it a day.

On Zaphod Beeblebrox’s third hand, it all depends on how long the generation lasts, doesn’t it? Sony is unlikely to release a surprise PS4 in 2011, but if we’re approaching 2013 or 2014 – nearing the end of the ten-year-plan – without a proper next generation, I can see the company wanting to get a head start on its competitors with the PS4.

Of course, Carmack himself is in no hurry to get to the next next-generation. “As developers, we would really like to see this generation stretch as long as possible. We’d like to see it be quite a few more years before the next gen console comes out, but I suspect one will end up shipping something earlier rather than later,” he said.

Beyond that, Carmack thinks that this may be the last generation that uses optical media (read: discs, whether DVD or Blu-Ray) and at least one of the next-generation consoles may well run entirely on digital distribution.

(Via Edge Online)

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