PlayStation 3 – Not Optimal, Says John Carmack

John Carmack Talks PlayStation 3

by Anton Shilov
05/14/2006 | 11:40 AM

John Carmack, head programmer at id Software and the man behind many popular three-dimensional games, said in an interview that the PlayStation 3 game console is not as optimal as Microsoft’s Xbox 360, but admitted that Sony Corp. would retain its leading video game console market positions and software developers would be “forced” to program for the PS3.


“PlayStation 3 gives more theoretical power, but what is going to matter is delivering on the games. I do believe that Sony has made a less optimal decision than Microsoft from the perspective of a game developer,” said John Carmack in an interview with G4 television.

Even though Mr. Carmack admitted that the PlayStation 3 game console may have some advantages in terms of performance over the new Xbox 360, the primary development platform for him remains the console from Microsoft Corp., as announced in August, 2005. The creator of popular titles like Doom or Quake shares a wide-spread opinion that it will not be easy to program for the PlayStation 3.

“Microsoft chose to have symmetrical CPUs, have less of them, but you can program them in a same way. […] If you want anything to work on the Cell, you have to break it into small nuggets of work, you have to work different compilers, different chain of tools,”

Nevertheless, given that Sony commands the lion’s share of the game console market, Mr. Carmack believes that software developers will be willing to take advantage of the Cell processor – the chip developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba that powers the PS3 and incorporates one dual-threaded PowerPC core and eight so-called synergistic processing units (SPEs) intended for floating-point calculations.

The chief developer at id Software said that optimizing games for the Cell processor would “make the development twice as difficult as it should be” and indicated that Sony is banking on its dominant market positions and game developers who will put their efforts into programming for the Cell processor.

Mr. Carmack, however, did not criticize the price-point of the PlayStation 3 console, which will be as high as $599.