Are smartphones killing handheld consoles?

John Carmack of id Software believes the 3DS (Nintendo) and NGP (Sony) could represent the last generation of specialized handheld consoles.

According to Carmack, devs can now render advanced graphics on smartphones, thereby providing a gaming experience that comes close to what handhelds have to offer.

“You don’t always get to build pyramids just because you want to… [And] the smart phone 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 smart phone, 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.”

However, senior GameStop VP Bob McKenzie offered a different perspective, noting that smartphone and tablet games are typically five-minute casual diversions.

In contrast, the NGP – which boasts raw horsepower and impressive performance – is more oriented towards hard-core gamers.

“You [just simply] can’t do all of that detail with some of these other devices,” said McKenzie.

“I’m not saying they’re not competing. I think they definitely are, but [phones and tablets] also help to broaden the market and expand the market to other users.”