One of the more interesting topics around Google’s Stadia has been how it handles latency.
Latency, as you might imagine, is a massive deal for games. Though Google touched on framerate and resolution targets in its Stadia presentation, the company didn’t specifically address latency.
By having a far-reaching network of data centres over the world, Google is certainly capable of being closer than anyone to potential customers, but that also doesn’t tell us anything about how big or small the delay is going to be.
As part of Digital Foundry‘s report on Stadia, the site got a chance to measure latency and compare it against existing figures for consoles and PCs.
During the Project Stream beta, the site tested Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to find a 179ms lag. This takes into account screen latency, input, and ping to Google’s servers. In other words, it takes 179ms for a button press to register an action in-game.
With the updated Stadia version demoed at GDC, Digital Foundry tested it again on a Google Pixelbook playing over WiFi, with the delay now dropping to 166ms. As it notes in the report, this is far from the controlled testing everyone will be performing in a real-world, home environment come launch.
It’s also worth noting that Digital Foundry couldn’t ascertain the display lag of the Pixelbook, and the fact Odyssey was running at 1080p 30fps. In all cases, the lag was higher than running the game natively on an Xbox One X at 30fps, and even more so on a PC at the same framerate. Running Odyssey at 60fps further exacerbates the gap, which is to be expected.
Interestingly, Google also allows developers to simulate the experience for 15mbps DSL connections, which it sees as the worst case scenario. Though latency in that case wasn’t tested, the report notes that video quality drops to 720p from 1080p to cope with the reduced bandwidth.
Though these numbers are high, they’re close to what players get using an Xbox One X with an OLED TV today. Beyond that, the experience of playing Odyssey felt comparable to native consoles. As the site notes, however, latency can be perceived differently by different people, and while some will scoff at these results, others will be perfectly happy with them.
Click through the link above for more details on image quality tests, another major concern for streaming services.