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Carmack envisions lengthy console cycle, mysterious platform configurations on the horizon

Jordan Mallory

During his expansive, three-hour long QuakeCon 2013 keynote speech/dissertation on the future of basically everything in the entire world, id Software co-founder John Carmack shared his expectations for the lifespan of the newest console generation, as well as the nebulous state of our understanding of consoles in general.

"I don't think there's going to be much of a push for another generation for a long time," Carmack said in response to a question from the audience. "Really, we could be doing great, innovative work even on the current generation for many more years yet. It's not like anybody's seen everything that you could do."

"I'll be surprised if we see radically better games enabled because of the new capabilities on the consoles," he continued. "And, I've thought for a while we're now past the knee of the curve of the payoff benefit, so we're going to be definitely on the gradual sloping part of it going forward."

Carmack added that he doesn't expect a next-next generation of consoles will be necessary until the trade-off can be made for hardware that can handle ray tracing. Should that take the form of a PlayStation 5 or Xbox 12 as we'd be accustomed to, however, is unknown in his eyes:

"Whether we get something like cloud gaming owning large shares of the market before then," he said, "or people using both systems or you just play on your mobile phone and it shows up on whatever screen's near you, that could become [the] dominant gaming platform. But, a traditional next Xbox? Yeah, I think that's a long ways off, and there's a credible argument to be made that there may not be another console generation as we know it now."

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