Let's Get Small

What will drive innovation in electronic games? Here’s id honcho John Carmack to explain:

On the triple-A titles, you must throw in everything and the kitchen sink. Even if you have some brilliant part in there, if it’s a conventional genre and people can tick off the five things you didn’t do that other games did, it’s going to have an impact on the level of success that you can get. But there seems to be much more forgiveness in the iOS market to be able to have something that’s new and clever and different, and flashy in some way without necessarily having all of the checkbox items that every other game has done.


What I would love to do is do something novel and experimental on an Xbox Live Arcade download, something that is not, again, betting the whole company on some design direction. We don’t have any actual plans to do that [type of small effort]—all resources are pretty much committed right now—but that would be the way I would love to experiment with that.

The big $50 dollar games will go on and on like Hollywood sequels — big budgets, flashy images, but very little innovation. For something fun and new, you’ll spend a buck or ten on something from the Apple’s App Store or Microsoft’s Live Arcade.

Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I saw a big box game that caught my interest, but I’m constantly finding new & entertaining stuff to download to the iPad. What’s happened to your gaming habits in the last three years or so?

UPDATE: There’s a reason Carmack didn’t mention Android in the same part of the interview as Xbox and iOS. Read:

The official word here is that we are definitely going to get some games compiled on the Android platform, but we are not yet committed to selling something on the Marketplace. Because I’m honestly still a little scared of the support burden and the effort that it’s going to take for our products, which are very graphics-intensive.

The iOS platform has really been a pleasure to work on compared to all of the… half of the reason for us ditching the old feature phones was that it was so much more pleasant to develop for iOS. And I fear that we would be slipping back into some of that quagmire on the Android side of things.

Steve Jobs was right about fragmentation on the Android platform.