Industry Icon John Carmack Shares His Thoughts On The Current State Of Video Games

The industry veteran speaks up.


Famed video game designer John Carmack, one of the founders of Doom and Wolfenstein studio id Software, who now works at Facebook on the Oculus virtual reality platform, appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast today--and he had a lot to say. One of the topics that came up was Carmack's thoughts on the current state of games today. He said he's generally optimistic, though he has some reservations as well.

In the past, some games had more of a "distinct flavor," Carmack noted. That might have been because they weren't subject to the level of focus-testing that sometimes exists in modern games, Carmack said. In fact, he said some modern games are "focus-grouped to death."

That might be because games have become so expensive to make. Carmack said some AAA games have budgets that can run into the "hundreds of millions of dollars," and as such, the publishers of those games focus-test them to ensure they appeal to a mass audience so they make their money back.

Here are Carmack's full comments:

"One of the interesting things as we look at game design today versus the old days is a lot of people fall into a nostalgia trap about saying, 'Well, the games I grew up with were the greatest games ever,' and you see it with music and movies and everything," Carmack said. "I tend to be more optimistic about the state of things today."

"The amount of effort that goes into the modern games is extraordinary. The detail and all the quality on all the different levels. There is a little sense of, games are so expensive to make now, sometimes in the hundreds of millions of dollars, that they do have to be conservative. They have to be careful to make sure that they've got something that has a broad, mass appeal. And I think that is the upside of some of the older games where they might have a little bit more of a distinct flavor; they weren't sort of focus-grouped to death in the way that some of the more modern games can be."

Carmack is now the CTO of Oculus VR. The company's latest product is Oculus Quest, which is a standalone virtual reality headset that does not require a computer.

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