Epic boss sees future consoles going mobile

Epic boss sees future consoles going mobile

By Rob Crossley

October 4th 2010 at 8:01AM

Mark Rein believes new Xbox or PlayStations could dominate more than the home space

Future successors to Microsoft and Sony’s powerhouse consoles would benefit from no longer being tethered to the living room TV, the vice president of Epic Games has said.

“Imagine a future Xbox 360 that is actually a tablet you carry around,” said Mark Rein in a new interview with Develop.

“It will have more power than 360 does today, with technology like Kinect built right in.

“Imagine walking into a bar with some friends, propping it up on the table and playing games like Dance Central or Kinect Adventures anywhere you go. Then when you get home that same device will use technology like AirPlay or wireless HDMI to connect to your big screen, you’ll pick up a wireless controller, or use your phone as controller to play games like Gears of War.”

Rein, whose company’s Unreal Engine 3 is the bedrock technology to hundreds of 360, PS3 and PC games, said there’s no stopping the momentum of mobile gaming.

Epic is currently building a mobile version of Unreal engine 3 for iOS devices.

It recently released a mobile tech demo, Epic Citadel, on the App Store – a free application which demonstrates how graphics quality in mobile devices has already surpassed last-gen home consoles.

But crucially, said Rein, the rapid increase of mobile hardware sophistication will soon reach that of today's home consoles. He said Epic games, as a future-technology focused company, should build on this.

“A lot of gaming is going mobile and I believe that console-style gaming is going there as well,” Rein said.

 “It feels like there’s a great opportunity for game consoles to cease to be something you plug into the wall and rather become something you take with you. Of course it will be more than just your game console; you can have your productivity apps, your documents, and your media collections on it as well.”

It’s a bold theory from the kingpin of high-end game technology – the company which is so intrinsic to what the feel of current-gen console games became.

But Rein says it’s not a dream – this shift is already happening with iPad and other devices in the works, and often new devices which were once solely more low-end productivity pieces are built with entertainment in mind.

“Today the companies making the hardware going inside phones know that games are important – they are incorporating processors that suit games and are as powerful as a PC or console. We’re turning a corner with GPUs and CPUs that support the intensive gameplay functions we need.

“So we’re going to see really powerful smaller machines emerge – they will be more powerful than a 360. To Epic that’s where our interest lies. We’re not interested in simple 2D games or games for the original iPhone or 3G; we want to bring high-quality, high-fidelity triple-A games to mobile. Epic Citadel woke a lot of people up – they realised it’s real and can be done.”