Digital Foundry looked at Google’s new streaming service, checking the input lag. In the case of “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” it was more than 160 ms over Stadia.
Google has announced the streaming platform Stadia, which lets you play elaborate AAA games on rather weak devices, without having to do without a 4K resolution or 60 FPS. These specifications can at least be achieved with a sufficient internet connection. Later even 8K with up to 120 FPS are to be made possible.
A sticking point should be the latency. Because your inputs are first registered by the respective terminal, sent to the data center and processed there before the resulting gameplay reactions are sent back to your device. These technical conditions have been adopted by the technical experts at Digital Foundry.
Input lag over 160ms
The latency was tested using the action adventure “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey”. The title ran on Google Stadia with 1080p and 30 FPS. It also used a 200 Mbps cable and a wireless connection to the router. The input lag after pressing a button was about 166ms. That’s not too bad value. In a worst-case scenario – the connection was reduced to 15 Mbit – but the editors came to an input delay of 188ms.
By comparison, the Xbox One X version of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has a latency of about 145 ms and high-end PCs about 79 ms. Stadia is thus not as responsive as a native hardware, but the difference is at least a comparison with the console within limits.
However, latency can be a serious problem when playing titles that require more accuracy than Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. For fighting games and shooters, the input delay should be less than 100 ms if possible. Whether Google will achieve such values, is questionable.
Noticeable input delay at Doom Eternal
In fact, the input delay in “Doom Eternal” is more significant. An editor of GameSpot noticed a noticeable and annoying input delay. It was easy to recognize because the crosshairs did not react as usual to the movements of the connected mouse. It stayed “easy”.
For super-fast first-person shooters based on precision targets, such a delay could be over. Controlling “Doom Eternal” with a controller slightly reduced the input delay.
According to a Google employee, the “Doom” demo ran in a special low-latency mode with a constant refresh rate. Medium-high graphics settings and an overall picture quality according to Google were used.
Back to “Assassin’s Creed”: In terms of image quality, Digital Foundry emphasized that “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” did battle artifacts in more detailed or action-packed scenes. This is due to the video encoder from Google. Problems may become even more apparent when playing games at 60 frames per second.
Apart from that, Digital Foundry seems to be quite optimistic about Google Stadia as it is the best streaming experience they’ve had so far. The following video explains more details: