At long last, after over a month of waiting, we finally got to see some answers regarding Google Stadia latency concerns. After yesterday’s Google I/O 2019 conference, which we are continuing to livestream, we were treated to some new information in regards to Stadia, which seemed—to us—to be quite a long time in the making. All we’ve had to work with since those first days after the initial announcement of Stadia has been tidbits and snippets of information here and there. As such, it is refreshing to finally see the team tackling and explaining concerns over the Google Stadia latency issues.
Why is Google Stadia Latency A Concern?
The problem that many in the gaming community have been highlighting was explained perfectly by Google itself: it’s a battle between Google Stadia latency and Google Stadia quality. Finding the right compromise between these two can be hard.
Latency is defined as the delay before a computer program responds to an input, whilst quality in gaming is usually considered to be a combination of the frame rate and the definition. Usually, improving one of these factors will serve to make the other less effective; for example, an ultra-high definition game may well be seen to lag from the sheer CPU requirements that come with such a demand.
Google Stadia is trying to do both, and this has left a number of potential supporters unsure as to whether or not they can actually pull it off. Game streaming has a reputation for having extremely frequent latency issues and as such, it hasn’t come as much of a surprise that Google saw fit to the the opportunity at their I/O conference to try to smooth out issues and concerns.
At the conference, Google stated that it’s intention was to “simultaneously optimize and balance both“. Reassuringly, it seems that the team are taking the concerns regarding Google Stadia latency seriously. Project Manager, Khaled Abdel Rahmen, said:
“Latency is the first word we hear when we say we’re working on game streaming. We did a lot of research about latency. As a matter of fact, we have constant weekly research sessions about every single aspect of latency in addition to our wider scale testing.
“It’s important to note that different latency requirements, even within the same game. Even the same mechanic across two different titles can have wildly different behaviors and requirements.
“Latency perception is closely tied to the player’s level of experience with a particular title. A casual player can fully enjoy a sports game without significant latency perception even when we dialed those numbers up to absurd levels. On the other hand, a more experienced player may be looking to do some skill shots, special passes, and things that are not feasible at high or inconsistent latency levels.”
As such, it seems that the team behind Google Stadia have recognised that many of their potential
customers will be wanting to do highly skilful and specific moves and will also be using special
tactics in their games to achieve a certain outcome. As such, they are clearly serious about tackling Google Stadia latency issues to ensure that their target market can have an enjoyable cloud gaming experience.
What Are Google Doing To Tackle Google Stadia latency issues?
Rahmen made it clear that the Stadia team were fully aware of the issues regarding Google Stadia latency, including the unknown factors which will be unique to an individual player: bandwidth, competing flows, decoder performance, internet connectivity, etc. They also made sure to point out, however, that a more casual gamer is less likely to notice small latency issues compared to a serious player, and serious players usually have the best technology anyway.
The IO conference has proved to be great for those of us who are looking forward to seeing Stadia when it is finally released, however there is still the problem that—at present—everything is only theory and talk, and has not been tested on a global scale yet. As such, we’ll have to wait for the Googe Stadia release to ever know for sure how good, or bad, the Google Stadia latency will be.