“how much more deadly is a Sherman M4 tank than an AK47?”

“Your iPhone 8 will probably wirelessly connect to your television set to give you that big screen gaming experience… So really, what’s the point of those next-gen consoles?”
“I mean, what would your mobile game look like in 2015? Who knows how fast that’s going to operate, but you can bet it’s going to be faster than an Xbox 360”
– Epic Games President Mike Capps

These quotes drew my brother and I into a lively debate. I took the “consoles will never die” stand, and he took the iPad’s side. Things were said, feelings were hurt, and we both promised to never discuss “the incident” again.
At this moment in gaming history, the portable vs. console debate seems to set off frothy-mouthed nerd rage — sometimes requiring mall security to come “Observe and Report” two gamers verbally duking it out in a Gamestop.

Not wanting to get our culture mixed up with Fox news AGAIN , I turned to Cort Stratton, who works at Naughty Dog, to help break down the tech side of this powder keg debate.


DNF: Playstation 3 vs iPad 2?

Cort: It goes without saying that portable *and* home console technology will continue to improve. It also goes without saying that no matter how powerful your phone gets, a dedicated console will be orders of magnitude more powerful. When you go for portability, you always sacrifice some power. The iPhone 8 may put an Xbox 360 in your pocket, but meanwhile Microsoft’s going to put an Xbox 720 in your living room. So, as long as game developers can think of ways use more processing power to deliver more compelling games, there will still be a place for home consoles — and I promise you we can always find a use for more power!”.

DNF: So, as technology continues to grow in the console arena, where does that leave the iOS devices?

Cort:“I don’t see iOS/portable gaming devices going anywhere either. They fill a niche that the home console market can’t (at least until that magical day when we install PS3s and Bravias in every toilet stall on Earth). Think back to the PS2/Xbox1/GameCube era: there was no indie games scene, PSN/XBLA/Steam didn’t exist, and “mobile phone gaming” meant that you could play Snake and Tetris on your Nokia clamshell. As a professional game developer, you could either make a big-budget triple-A project with EA or Activision and sell millions of copies at Best Buy, or you were SOL. Now, thanks to ubiquitous smartphones and home broadband, successful games can be built on every scale from World of Warcraft all the way down to Minecraft. This is progress!”

DNF: So it’s not a matter of one taking over the other, it is a matter of coexistence?

Cort: “People trot out this argument before every new console generation. ‘Games are already good enough!’, they say. ‘What will better technology get us that we don’t already have? Better graphics? Who cares; graphics are already photo-realistic!’ And in the short-term, they’re right; the first wave of titles for any new console tends to be slightly prettier variations on proven, last-gen ideas. But with enough time and experimentation, each generation inevitably comes into its own. I guarantee that in five year’s time, you’ll look back at PS3/360 games and cringe at how primitive they are.”


Next time you see it in the headlines, just chuckle. It’s not important.

Just think about Star Trek: The Next Generation. Everyone had a nifty tablet for personal work — and Angry Birds — but when they needed to run the ship, they still used the large, powerhouse computers. Let’s just hope that next time someone shoots a photon torpedo at your house, your Xbox 360 doesn’t explode and shower you with sparks. That would suck, and you would have to wipe off the fake-looking head wound later. 

Thanks to Cort for taking time out of his day to reply to my inane questioning.

About Donald Conrad

Donald Conrad is an avid father and a dedicated gamer -- or maybe that's the other way around. He loves his games, and he loves his family, and he's pretty sure he loves sleep, even if he doesn't remember what it was like. Follow his life confusion on Twitter @ConManEd