John Carmack: This Small Survey Taken in My Spare Time Says Android Isn’t Where It’s At


Ha. Hehe. Heh. Ahem: John Carmack, don’t you think it’s a bit ridiculous to decide how profitable Android is for you or any developer based on a survey you took between meetings at a convention? The id Software veteran, co-founder, technical director, and whatever else you want to call him polled Quakecon attendees.

He asked them if they owned iOS or Android and came up with a “50/50” split. (I highly doubt this is 100% accurate.) And then proceeded to ask those people if they’d spend $20 on a game – surely more iOS users said yes opposed to Android users.

Don’t get me started on the fact that $20 for a mobile game is bizarre even if it does look as good as Rage, but to discredit Android just because you asked a few people if they’d spend ridiculous amounts of money on mobile games and they said no is just, well, words can’t even explain how stupid it is.

With that I leave you the pointlessness of this story – id doesn’t want to develop for Android although they’re still spending time and resources on bringing Rage to the platform. (Oh, wait, nevermind – their only Android-focused developer was put on the iOS team.) And our good friend irony just took a swan dive off the top of the world’s tallest skyscraper. [NowGamer via Electronista]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Survey says…


  2. Carmack should just stick to doing what he does best, developing second-best games for the 360 and Ps3

    1. That IS what he does best now, isn’t it? What a wiener.

      That’s a shame, because Quake 3 was such a good game that I cry a little bit when I think about it.

    2. Carmack is a genius, and a very very talented programmer, I don’t think anyone can disagree with that.

      It’s too bad today’s games aren’t judged solely by their technical achievements. That being said, I still have high hopes for the PC version of RAGE.

  3. Could it be that Apple users are the only ones willing to pay that type of money because they are use to paying large sums for games and other utilities in the app store

    1. Yeah those guys aren’t to smart. It’s funny that they jailbreak their phones and buy apps to add functionality that already comes with all Android phones.

      1. actually, i know a few that jailbreak their phone to get free apps on their iphone

        1. Yup, I know quite a number of friends that Jailbreak for that sole reason.

  4. This survey is ridiculous. I would spend $50 on a game that’s good enough. Especially if it’s close to xbox quality.

  5. John Carmack has always held a great deal of my respect, ever since I was a small tyke playing Wolfenstein 3D, through Quake II etc…. he’s starting to lose my respect now… what a douche.

    1. Well, his “survey” is as believeable as any other, no need to berate the man, he’s still a legend, personally…

  6. $20 for an iOS or Android game? No, absolutely not. Spectral Souls is one I want, but not for $15. $5 is about my limit, and even then I need to think about the purchase.

  7. He is right, I wouldn’t spend $20.00 for one of his games.

  8. HTC Flyer has OnLive games and I would pay to have those games on a tablet. But these are real games with real stories.

  9. Maybe on of us android users should come up with our own surveys and do the the same thing ios is doing see how it feels for then

  10. Maybe on of us android users should come up with our own surveys and do the the same thing ios is doing see how it feels for them

  11. id has lost their edge.

    1. How? By wanting to be a successful business? I mean really the bottom line is money. People seem to forget this fact-Id has been a Titan in gaming for longer than many playing their games have been alive and still make kick ass games.

      Recently Square Enix released a port of Final Fantasy 3 at 15.99 and it zoomed to the top of the charts. And that was a straight port, no extra dungeons or content, just updated the graphics and ported the game. Yet to hear some of the fanboys on the gaming forums talk, it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. That’s the kind of thing Carmack and others look at.

      I bought Chaos rings for 13 bucks because it was a SE game, and a new ip-not a release of a 17 year old game, but no way in hell I’d pay that, let alone 16 bucks for a port.

      When you have a locked down product that can’t be customized outside of jailbreaking it, you have to push something and for the iDevice crowd it’s games. They delude themselves that somehow because they can play Infinity Blade that it makes them superior. Or that paying 10-20 bucks for a game makes it a serious gaming device.

      Carmack would be a fool to not devote resources to those who P.T. Barnum would have loved.

  12. You may have a point, but you’re a terrible writer, Quentyn Kennemer.

    However, Carmack is right – when it comes to iOS users – they DEFINITELY have deeper pockets than Android users.

    It seems that Android admirers tend to get the best deals, with the biggest bang for the smallest buck.

    Apple users tend to not care as much about the funds, and spend $800 on a device that has +1 feature more than the $800 phone they purchased last week. Needless to say, additional $20 is a wash for them. As opposed to an Android user who will ponder about the $1.19 transaction for months to come before they purchase.

    iOS platform is also centered around paid applications being premium, good stuff. And having much fewer free applications, which are for the most part bogus apps that nobody would pay for to begin with.

    Android had to cater to the non-iphone-fanboy type persona, and the best way to do that – tackle the market of “cheap” people, who will never spend money on the iphone. BAM! And that’s the way the cookie crumbles, fellas.

    That’s the breakdown, and frankly – Carmack didn’t even need to mention any survey, this is common sense.

    NOTE: I am getting a strong feeling that most people here are rather disappointed that the world-known game developer is “badmouthing” Android. However, you have to be realistic for a moment, and see that he is in fact right.

    Now, the question about $20 pricetag was absurd in the sense that $20 is far too high for phone apps, but guess what – EVEN when it is THAT high of a price, Apple fanboys would still buy. BUSINESS WIN. He’d be an idiot if he didn’t weigh-in the business opportunity of spending funds and time developing for a platform that will not yield even a fraction of the revenue they can get on iOS. And think of the tablet market as well – that is iOS as well. Android doesn’t have a strong tablet presence, yet. When it does – it will be a mess. Hell, it is a mess already.

    1. You never explained what made me a horrible writer. I should have TL;DR’d that one.

    2. And yet Android users have to pay a cell phone bill every month too like iPhone users….

      I dont get the whole “Android is for ppl that cant afford” angle.

      There are some of us who did and do pay retail for Android phones. Android phones dont start out with BOGO deals, 1 cent deals, etc.

      Maybe its just me, cuz I also dont believe iPhone users are Sheep or to dumb to use Android.

    3. If that’s the case then why aren’t there more games for Mac than PC? Everything you said about ios also applies to the mac.

    4. “Android had to cater to the non-iphone-fanboy type persona, and the best way to do that – tackle the market of “cheap” people, who will never spend money on the iphone. BAM! And that’s the way the cookie crumbles, fellas.

      I disagree with this comment. Android has more free apps because it’s Google, which gets most of their revenue from Ads. So they allow an option for developers to make money from ads apps and make it free.

      I don’t think spending $700 on my Atrix unlock and $70 a month would be consider ‘cheap’. I’m a savy/smart shopper and I don’t buy into hypes. I research what I buy if it’s $1 or $1,000 and consider the bang for the buck it gives me.

    5. You are missing the fact that android users don’t want to be tied down by the OS developer. Not all android users are cheap either. I own two Droid devices, the OG and the X. Neither are cheap.

  13. Developers don’t get it. When you build a game for a smart phone you don’t charge ppl 20$. You aim for mass success. Look at Angry birds… those guys made millions with that game. 5$ should be the maximum you ask for an app. By putting your app on the android market, or any markets for that mater, you give access to your app to millions and millions of ppl at the same time. The marketing strategy is completely different than the PC/Console market. Devs have to get use to that…

    1. yeah but do we really want gimmicky little games with no real story, no 3D graphics, no real depth? They’ll make millions, games like farmville will make millions but I don’t think Android will be compelling to most consumers if those games represent the best of what it can do.

    2. I paid $13 for Civilization on the iPad. Only because I think that long games are worth more.

      For a rails based shoot em up like Rage $5 is probably the most II would pay.

      1. Wait. All this fuss over a rails based shooter?

  14. I see it otherwise: it seems that only IOS Users are dump enough to buy his stupid overpriced games wuhhahaah!

    1. dump enough? ;)

      1. sry: dumb enough :D

  15. Yet another example of why being a big corp with lots of money doesn’t mean shit if you can’t/won’t adapt to changing markets. We’ll see companies like id die out and be replaced by the small guy who is willing to adapt and innovate. I’m not saying id definitely will die, just using them as an example. We saw this recently with Epic talking shit about Android and completely missing the point.

    And yes, $20 for a phone game is insane. I’d say $10 maybe.

  16. I’ll spend 20 dollars for a phone-based game when someone creates a game that’s worth that much. This means lots of hours of progressive gameplay and something that’s actually built for a touch-screen device–none of this on-screen d-pad crap.

  17. I think his survey does show one important thing, those dumb enough to bite into the rotten apple are apparently fools who are begging for their money to be taken from them. As the saying goes, an ios fool and his money are easily parted.

  18. Sending this from my rooted nookcolor btw…

    Android is great I love it, and jobs is a giant douche. With that said iOS is freaking amazing software running on a beautiful piece of hardware (both the phone and pad). Everyone quit hating, if you like your phone and want to brag about it sweet, but quit bashing the hell out of the other Guy. If the other product was REALLY that terrible than no one would buy it and it would fail…that’s how our economy works.

    1. It’s not amazing software. It just has a lot of support from other people. There’s no technical reason why Android (especially honeycomb) can’t have the same exact stuff that’s on ios.

  19. I guess Android users are just cheap.

    1. Nope, not cheap-just not dumb enough to get their wallet raped.

  20. Why spend more than a few $$ on a time-waster mobile game?

    But if I can hook up my phone to my flat-screen and have a Wii-type game experience, I would probably spend the money. If I could hook it up and get an PS3 type of experience, I definitely would.

    No one PLANS on spending a lot of time on a phone game – so $20 seems like a waste. If they happen to spend a lot of time on a game (like Angry Birds), its a happy accident.

  21. Nice job leaving out the fact that statistically iOS users spend more $$$ on apps.

    1. They do. I just didn’t think it was relevant to this story. My whole thing was that he once claimed id wants to focus more on Android, but bringing on one Android developer and immediately adding him to their iOS team isn’t “focus”. It’s contradiction and a lack of commitment.

      1. The lack of commitment is because Android is not a great platform for games. Maybe his thinking has evolved… does that make him a liar? You’re making a big deal about essentially nothing because you don’t like the fact you won’t get some cool games on Android.

        1. What Chris says is true. If I was a games developer I’d concentrate on the iOS (for now anyways)

          Tegra 2 Hummingbird, exynos, qualcomn plus who knows intel is getting on board now too. So much hardware differentials….. It makes sense doesn’t it Quentyn?

          1. Having different chipsets makes little difference if they support OpenGL ES 2.0

  22. It shows what we’ve known all along. iFools will waste money. Who’s going to pay 20 bucks a pop for games on small screens or tablets with no controls. Now when these games are on Apple TV and Google TV and your phone is a controller then he may have a point.

    But until then he is just trying to stir FUD. Why? Because he and some others have been rejoicing about this one mobile platform to unite them all in iOS thats now not in reach of uniting anything. They were oh so close to this one platform to develop for. But that dream has been destroyed so they bash on Android in a last ditch effort. Come a year or so from now they’ll be porting their games to Android. Because the lack of their games certainly hasn’t stopped Android from sucking up the market. I guess aiming at $20 a pop games off a platform with possibly only 17% market share where not everyone is going to buy the games is a business strategy if you want to call it one.

  23. ID has made some good games over the years, but for them to think they are above every other developer in the nation by saying, we are so sh1t hot that we can pick and choose a platform and everyone will jump on that one just to play our game, it kinda…. well… to put it nicely conceded, self centered, and egotistical.

    Hey Carmack I wont be jumping platforms because your games just aren’t worth it at any price. Oh and that demo looks like something a junior at Westwood college made.

  24. Actually the only truth is that really the android community have many many linux fans and this android users will not spend even 1$ for a game because they are linux users so if in this room most of the people with android ware IT guys who love linux YES they defiantly will say NO. If you ask a regular android user ( lets say if you ask a GIRL) will she buy angry birds for 5$ she will say YES no metter is she with android or iOS.

    The thing is that I believe the business around Games for Phones is WRONG. they should ALL be free, instead of having an app for a 5 bucks it is far better to have a Ads app for free.. the money you will take will be more and I believe the right way in doing this is with Android because the Android users are expecting this.. also in app purchases for extra levels, DLS even “weapons”(if we speak about online RPG) to me sounds more fair then spending 5 bucks on a casual game that I will play while I am in toilet.. dont get me wrong but better I will buy Crysis 2 AND PLAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY on a PC

    1. “If you ask a regular android user ( lets say if you ask a GIRL) will she buy angry birds for 5$ she will say YES no metter is she with android or iOS.”
      I must say that this statement is very untrue and I resent you to lowering me to such a standard :p There are savy Android chicks out there y’know :P

      1. Seriously. Some of us have root on our Android devices. Some of us even write applications for our Android devices.

    2. Heh, alriiiiight! 2 new geeky Android girls. Giggity giggity.

  25. like snoop says….it aint no fun…if my homies can’t have none…
    20 bucks for a game, nope! I’d rather pay 50 and play it on my PS3.

  26. In other news…Gamestop says they are working on a tablet and you’ll be able to have LittleBigPlanet and Halo Reach.

    Chances are that any gamestop tablet will be running Android and definitely not ios.
    Between onlive, gamestop and xperia play, Android will be the place to be for gaming.

  27. Look, Carmack isn’t basing his decision to focus on iOS simply based on his straw poll; he just threw that out as an anecdote. The reason iOS is better for gaming is lack of fragmentation and the fact that iOS users are more likely to pay for stuff. End of story. I own iOS right now but love Google and Android as well. But facts are facts. Not to mention that Carmack is a gaming god, and even if you disagree with him he and his opinions still deserve more respect.

    Tim V good post.

  28. I would pay $20 for a game, but only if it’s a really high end game with a lot of features, which currently isn’t possible.

    Currently, due to there being not enough memory on smart phones, the games can’t be very advanced. The current high end devices can only support games such as gangstar: MV, which, although a fun game, isn’t not good enough to justify paying more than $10.

  29. The truth is that iOS users will pay anything, no matter how simple and expensive. Android users look enthusiasm, functionality, usefulness, innovation, and reasonable prices. ppl like carmack only consider money, which if they can juice ridiculous amount of profit from iOS users, they will stick with that. Its how the market works. Yeah he’s a douche, but forget him. He knows android users won’t let themselves be nickeled and dimed.

  30. Another example of a possible misquote in a written piece.

    He actually polled on how many spent $20 on the Android Market, not on a specific game.

    You can hear him do the survey here at 8:40

    And the survey is just for fun, he does a check every six months to see what the state of Android is, and it is going in the right direction, it is just not there yet.

    It is always funny and sad to see how stories get out of hand because of misinformation.

    1. That’s a very misleading way to ask the question. The Apple App Store has a ton of overpriced crap, so much that it’s impossible to use an iPhone to its full potential without spending $20 or more. The Android Marketplace is full of free apps. Android users don’t have to spend $20 to use their phones; the apps they need are free.

      It would be like asking a group of gamers, 50% who work 9-5 jobs and 50% who are professional losers, who bought some limited release game on launch day. Obviously the jobless losers will be the ones who bough it because by the time the others got off work it was sold out. Yet Carmack’s conclusion would be that the working class must not like to buy games.

      1. The android market does spoil you, and I love it free apps and all, not pirated I wouldn’t do that to android, although I do enjoy amazons free app.

  31. The iPhone will eventually loose out on platform availability. Considering it’s vendor lock-in and bad standard compatibility.

    When Android finds it’s way to Smart TVs (if Google actually does something with Google TV) and the tablet-smartphone unification that is called Ice Cream, it will eventually outgun iOS.

    I understand John Carmack’s position as a developer. But why on earth did he make his id Tech engines from version 3 up virtual machines?

  32. Really great graphics on a 3.5″ screen. That’s what ios gaming is. It’s 3.5″ inches. I tried Dungeon Defenders on my 4″ vibrant and the experience still sucked compared to my DS. Serious gaming on phones is not a very good experience, maybe it will be different with the Xperia Play since it has actual controls. Good mobile gaming looks like it will be better on Sony’s NGP. It sounds like people are willing to make a lot of compromises on the experience so they can have gaming on their phone. Which seems kind of odd since the devices like the PSP Go are actually cheaper than the flagship phones on contract. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.

    1. I think a lot of that compromise comes from ‘it’s the device I always have with me.’

      If I’m stuck in a waiting room at the doctor’s office, or on a bus/train, and I’m bored? Chances are I didn’t remember to bring my DS with me. However, I will always have my /phone/ with me, so a game on the phone is a game I actually /have/, rather than a game sitting back at my house.

      It’s like the photography adage: the best camera is the one you have with you. The best mobile gaming platform is the one you actually have with you.. and people are a lot less likely to leave their phone at home than they are their handheld gaming system.

  33. In my small personal one man survey, I won’t miss id, if they decide that android is worth it “mini yay”, if not, I DON’T care. I seriously don’t folks, there’s plenty of other fish in the sea.

    1. the problem is therer aren’t that many big fishes who can’t deliver awesome products in the sea….well not in the Android sea at the moment…

      But I do agree with Carmack he is right. We can be a little disappointed but in truth he is spot on. Android has too many fragmentations.

  34. What he said is code for:

    “I am fully aware that a lot people use Android devices, but Apple will help me sell my product through an major announcement and put me in pretentious TV ads. Sorry guys”

  35. I love android, but I still don’t believe the OS is where it needs to be yet at all. I have used an iPhone4 and as much as I hate to admit it everything about it feels smoother, and more polished than any android device ever. I played with a Xoom at a store and was pretty impressed with how fast it was, then I went to pick up what I thought was an iPad2 and it blew the Xoom out of the water in terms of touch screen responsiveness and speed. I was very surprised to find out what I was holding was actually the first iPad, so you can imagine how impressed I was with the actual iPad2. I hope Google continues to improve the DVM, and find ways to offer apps more low-level hardware access(like renderscript) because I do not like Apple’s business practices and “ecosystem”(monopoly) they are allowed to have, but right now there is no denying iOS may not offer as many great features as Android, but it is a hell of a lot faster. Plus I’d imagine compiled objective-c will always be faster than code ran on the dvm. Sad part is even if android 2.4 brings with it tons of improvements in those areas 85% of people with an android right now will never see 2.4. You can argue all you want but look how many phones are still stuck on 2.2.

    Disclaimer: I know nothing and my opinions might be jaded from owning a Samsung Moment and Samsung Epic -> two phones that will never reach what they are truly capable of.

  36. This is the SAME guy that said SMTP (multi core processing) would NEVER become main stream. How many of you have single core CPU’s on your computers? OUR F@()#*&$ phones will soon all be dual, quad, etc core!!!! This guy is a tart.

  37. Who needs him when nVidia is bringing alot of games to Android with their PC-like GeForce ULP GPU inside the Tegra 2. With their knowledge and support, developers can port games from PC or consoles to Android pretty quick.

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