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Carmack: Cloud computing is a shoo-in within 10 years

Non-local processing will be the core of gaming says id chief

John Carmack, the coding genius at the helm of id Software, has predicted that cloud-based gaming will be a "shoo-in" for the industry within ten years, once infrastructure is able to support it.

Speaking in an interview with sister site Eurogamer, Carmack postulated on the future of home computing as being unpredictable, but is confident that streaming will have a significant role to play.

"At that point we're closing in on the end of Moore's law," said Carmack of the generation following the next. "It's a scary thought to think, is the generation after the next one the last console generation, effectively?

"The other thing you fight is, the better games get the harder you have to go to give a delta people care about. That's going to be a challenge for the next-generation of consoles, to show that the pack-in title is going to look more awesome than what you get on the current ones that people will want to go spend $300 on a new console.

"They'll be able to do it on the next generation, but it's going to be much harder. And whether it's even possible another generation after that is an open question. There are lots of valid reasons to like a stable platform, to be able to have stable skill sets and tool sets to be able to build things in a controlled way without that terrifying jump.

"There are a lot of factors that can go on there. And shoot, once we're out ten years cloud-based gaming is almost a shoo-in. It's not a shoo-in this year or next year, but if you look ten years out, piping everything over a broadband connection, there are huge advantages to doing that."

Ever the speculative futurist, Carmack warmed to his subject with a discussion of the possible extension of the role of mobile, seemingly suggesting the possibility of a portable, core personal processing unit which provides all of our entertainment needs.

"There are a lot of different factors there, where computing power is getting so ridiculously cheap and we carry so much of it around. People's telephones could be their home console, and it just beams over to the TV set when they're there and they want that experience. Do we want these separate walled gardens: here's what we've got on our PC, here's what we've got on our console, here's what we've got on our mobile phone?

"There's at least an argument that you wind up carrying around enough processing power with you to satisfy all of those and you dock them into different things when you go there. It could play out in lots of different ways. There's not one valid path to the next-generation of technology.

"It's all fascinating, interesting stuff. I'm completely happy to go work on the next-generation, super computer console. I love working on mobile stuff. Cloud-based infrastructure has lots of interesting technical challenges of its own as well as development wins for doing things that way.

"That's at least three directions things could go right there. And any one of them could wind up dominating in some way."

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Dan Pearson