John Carmack, technical director at US studio Id Software, believes upcoming handhelds from Nintendo and Sony could be the last of their kind.
The veteran game developer, who had helped build a custom engine for iPhone and iPad games, said consumers dictate what platforms the industry should invest in.
And with the rapidly increasing popularity of smartphones, Carmack appeared unsure whether the specialised handheld platform will last another generation.
“The smartphone may turn out to be 80 percent as good at gaming as a dedicated gaming platform,” Carmack told Dallas News.
“People are going to carry their smartphone, and if it’s an 80 percent gaming device, how many people in the gaming market will be satisfied with that? That’s the question that’s in everybody’s mind, and I really don’t know.”
Carmack added that if consumers pine for smartphones over handhelds, then the industry has to follow.
“If that’s what the consumers are going to trend towards on there, there may not be much as developers we can do about that,” he said.
He added that the 3DS and NGP could represent the last generation of specialised handheld game consoles ever built.
“You don’t always get to build pyramids just because you want to,” he said.