While searching the web for cats that look like Wilford Brimley, I stumbled upon an article on John Carmack’s view of the iPhone. He thinks it will pose a significant threat to handheld gaming devices. I think this is stupid. There are always the traditional reasons the iPhone won’t steal much thunder from handhelds: the battery life isn’t long enough and the lack of any actual tacticle buttons is a turn off for many and hampers control, but I am more fond of an analogy.
Proponents of the iPhone argue that developer freedom over content and cost will separate the platform from competitors. Let’s try this same argument to explain the death of game consoles:
Man of the Future: Did you hear about this new platform that nearly everyone in the country owns?
Hearer of Good News: What, a DS?
Man of the Future: No, it’s called a computer and it’s totally going to shake up the market!
Hearer of Good News: How so?
Man of the Future: Well think about it, you’ve got a computer already so why waste money buying a console?
Hearer of Good News: I like console games.
Man of the Future: Yeah, but the developers aren’t going to make them much longer. The computer gives them complete freedom over content, distribution and pricing.
Hearer of Good News: So how long do consoles have to live?
Man of the Future: The computer revolution is upon us. Sell your systems and buy a new graphics card.
Hearer of Good News: So I need to spend a lot to get involved?
Man of the Future: No, not at all! The computer will be flooded with games so simple you can run them in a browser.
Hearer of Good News: It really does sound like the best of all worlds.
Man of the Future: And how!
The last decade has been a history of PC developers leaving their traditional market space to sell to console gamers. Microsoft created a system and Valve, Epic, Bungie, Bioware and dozens more followed. If the iPhone is going to displace traditional handhelds, it will be an entirely new phenomenon because history clearly doesn’t hint that this revolution will come.
Now for the ad hominem attack. Carmack made a game on the DS called Orcs and Elves and about seventeen people bought it. He doesn’t like handhelds because their owners are stupid, tasteless peasants who don’t want to buy low profile, mud colored, first person rogue-likes that could have come out on the Super Nintendo (and more than likely did come out in DOS format). Good luck on the iPhone, John.