The performance of the iPhone and other smartphones is growing rapidly enough that they might obviate the need for a future Xbox or other consoles, Epic Games' president Mike Capps opined in an interview late this week. Apple's hardware was accelerating fast enough that it was likened for Industry Gamers to the problems with hardware spread that previously affected just computers. At the rate smartphones like these were developing, developers not only had to hit a moving target but might see the speed advance quickly enough that phones could replace consoles.
"Your iPhone 8 will probably plug into your TV, or better yet, wirelessly connect to your television set to give you that big screen gaming experience with good sound," Capps explained. "So really, what's the point of those next-gen consoles? It's a very interesting situation to be looking at. That's what we're starting to think about more... not how do we scale from some Nintendo platform to some other future console."
He imagined that a smartphone would very likely outrun an Xbox 360. Sony has already shown that the PlayStation Vita, which uses a quad-core processor like those that will show in phones and tablets next year, is nearly as fast as a PlayStation 3.
Some games have already been testing the concept of using a mobile device to power a more TV-like console experience, such as Real Racing 2 HD or The Incident, but the performance of current phones is still such that they can't replicate the console experience. Raw graphics performance is often the issue, but a lack of game-friendly controllers and too much lag for wireless has limited the utility.
Regardless of their immediate impact, phones and tablets are already having an impact on traditional gaming. While insisting on saying the issue was strictly internal, Nintendo cut the 3DS price by $80 in a move that many see as an acknowledgement that Apple was cannibalizing its mobile gaming share. Dedicated gaming handhelds have been hurt both by far cheaper games on the iPhone but also by convergence, where fewer now want to carry a gaming system at the same time as a phone or MP3 player.