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Carmack criticizes Apple on iPhone/iPod games

updated 09:30 pm EST, Thu November 15, 2007

John Carmack interview

Gaming guru John Carmack today criticized Steve Jobs' mobile gaming strategy, saying that Apple's business-related decisions may affect the iPod and iPhone's future in gaming negatively. Fountainhead Entertainment and id Software recently formed id Mobile, a company dedicated to providing superior quality games in the cell phone market, after Carmack had experienced some less-than-stellar games on his own mobile device. In an interview with GameDaily BIZ, Carmack says that this is an important area to improve on, as there are approximately 10 to 20 times the number of mobile phones as there are computers in the world today, and about 100 times as many as there are gaming consoles.

The mobile gaming market will reach $10 billion by 2009, according to a recent study by Juniper Research. In an earlier statement, Carmack said that mobile gaming has the potential to eclipse conventional gaming platforms, but clarifies in the interview that it will be a challenge to do so, due to the sheer amount of competing phone products, and varying specifications therein.

With worldwide demand of the iPhone soaring, and with id's recent commitment to the Macintosh platform, GameDaily inquired about whether id Mobile will be deploying titles to the iPod or iPhone.

"We've certainly been looking at it but Steve Jobs and I have not been seeing really eye to eye on a lot of important issues," said Carmack. "We were in a fairly heated argument at the last WWDC and we've had a few follow-ups. I have an iPhone right now and it's a platform I would enjoy developing for but Apple is not taking progressive steps in regards to [gaming]. Their strategy seems to be working just find from a business standpoint, so I'm not going to second guess them and tell them they're being fools or idiots for not focusing on this.

Carmack continues, "The honest truth right now is that Apple's not exactly hugely supportive of this. When they finally allowed games to be put on the iPod... in many ways it's one of the worst environments to develop games for. You have to work on an emulator... just all these horrible decisions. I expressed my fears directly to Steve Jobs that some of these mistakes might be carried over to the iPhone, so they're at least aware of all of them, but they're not giving any spectacular signs that it's going to be a big deal for them in the next year."

by MacNN Staff




  1. himself

    Joined: Dec 1969


    mo' money, mo' money!

    "10 to 20 times the number of mobile phones as there are computers in the world today, and about 100 times as many as there are gaming consoles."

    Damn. That's a lot of dough.

  1. henjin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stupid Jobs

    Stupid Jobs, this is stupid money to be made. The iPhone crawls along on Edge. What better way to make a feature of WiFi but to have it play games... with other iPhone users... but then Jobs doesn't play games.. probably doesn't text...

  1. rjwill246

    Joined: Dec 1969


    it's actually sad

    -- that we even consider gaming on a phone to be "critical." It says a lot about where are brains are- and it's not positive. Certainly, some sort of amusement is reasonable but I feel embarrassed for humanity as I watch people in some countries, sitting on trains, oblivious to the world, focusing on a hand held device, with all the concentration of solving a global catastrophe. We've come a long way- down!

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPhone will make me rich

    He wants to be the next XBOX by riding on iPhone. Good luck because that's not iPhone's philosophy built upon. Perhaps he should target his complains more on PSP. But then he realizes Sony game consoles are going down the hill so he has to choose.... finding way to expand his market...hmm.... Google Phone maybe?

  1. Kenneth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sort of agree

    Well.. the iPod is originally an audio player and it is now expanded to more than just audio.

    I'm sure iPod touch and iPhone users are happy to see games on their devices.

    As mobile devices are getting more and more powerful, they can do a lot of things.

  1. ApeInTheShell

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Games iPhone/iPod Touch

    Games on a mobile phone or iPod are a bonus but they are not really good. Even when there is a larger screen the graphic quality or lack thereof doesn't make up for a good story line. Use existing games with great storylines and make a mini game application from that. I wouldn't mind an aerial for my WoW game to check mail, do auction house, kill dire starving wolves.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    henjin & rjwill246

    henjin & rjwill246

    henjiin blabbers: "but then Jobs doesn't play games.. probably doesn't text..."

    You are correct, he probably does neither - you may also have noticed that he is very, very successful -- and you, or most gamers, are not. I'm sure that's just a coincidence. I mean, wasting hours and hours of your day staring at a screen and achieving nothing has absolutely no bearing on your life...

    rjwill246 states: "-- that we even consider gaming on a phone to be "critical." It says a lot about where are brains are- and it's not positive."

    ...and you are 100% correct -- high-fives on that observation.

  1. jdonahoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    games on the ipod

    My personal feeling is that games are really tough on my 5.5 ipod. Besides being difficult to control the action, the games tend to suck the battery down worse then video. Maybe the itouch and iphone have better processors (read, easier on the battery), but if I'm going to be away from a power source for awhile games have to stay on hold.

  1. badbad

    Joined: Dec 1969


    traditional weakness

    Macintoshes (not Apple II) has always seen poor relationships with game developers. SJ is smart but he has always seemed to dislike conventional media like TV, radio and games.

    His Apple products seem to reflect that kind of bias. When he makes an audio player he doesn't include a radio. When he makes a video playback device he doesn't include a TV tuner. He won't concede the idea of a three-button mouse which is pretty essential for gamers.

    I am not a gamer but I am a stockholder. I can recognize that the iPod Touch and iPhone would make pretty interesting game development platforms.

    This is a market weakness for others to exploit. Let me make a little conjecture that MSFT will try to compete against the PSP/Gameboy pretty soon. Perhaps in about 12-18 months if/when they make a Zune game player which can also play music and take calls what will Apple's response be?

    Based on SJ prior history there won't be a response. That is bad for the iPods future.

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