Game consoles still dominate this industry, but with smartphones, tablets and digital distribution methods on PC, the pressure on console makers is continually increasing. Tablets like the iPad in particular offer a compelling experience, and they increase in graphical horsepower almost every year, but Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney still see consoles as irreplaceable... for another six to eight years at least.
Speaking to GamesIndustry International in a wide-ranging interview, Sweeney explained why consoles will remain in the driver's seat.
"The big difference between a console and a tablet is the console can consume 100 or 200 watts of power, while the tablet consumes one or two or three or four watts. That's really the limiting factor of performance there. Just on the grounds of the laws of physics, you'd have to think it is three to four hardware generations, or six to eight years before the current highest end desktop or console performance you can achieve becomes achievable on tablets," he said.
"To me, that really defines the role of consoles in the world. They define the highest and most impressive graphics experience anywhere in the industry. They focus on delivering teraflops of computing performance in a way that a portable device or an economical computer really couldn't, despite sheer focus on that one aspect," Sweeney continued.
As for Apple and the iPad, Sweeney remarked that Epic has been amazed by how quickly Apple has pushed technology forward. It's certainly benefited the game developer.
"I'm continually astounded by Apple's sheer will to push the industry forward," Sweeney said. "Apple is by far the leading phone provider in terms of profits or any other objective measure of how well they are doing. A company in that position could just rest on their laurels and keep making more and more profit from each new phone. Apple doesn't take that approach. Rather, they push the technology forward as fast, or faster than possible to go from lower resolution displays."