Shortly after Google revealed its ambitious Stadia gaming platform at GDC 2019, the company allowed those in attendance to go hands-on with the service in games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Doom. Many of these hands-on reports discuss the potential problem Google Stadia may have with latency, but it appears as though it may not actually be a major issue for the service.
We scoured the web for impressions of Google Stadia to get an idea of how latency impacted the demos people played at GDC. For the most part, it seems as though the reception to Google Stadia is positive, and that Stadia latency won't hold the service back as some have feared.
Lucas Matney of TechCrunch initially had issues with their Google Stadia demo of Doom, as the game's resolution dropped dramatically and the frame rate was like a "fast-paced PowerPoint presentation." However, a system restart seemed to solve these issues.
"Despite the initial hiccup, my experience with Stadia was largely positive. Doom 2016 was in crisp 4K and I was able to focus on the game without thinking about the service I was playing it on, which is ultimately the best endorsement of a new platform like this."
Imran Khan of Game Informer seems to have had a less positive experience playing Doom on Google Stadia. "[...] swinging your aiming reticle around the screen is not instantaneous, and anyone that has played Doom before can instantly feel the difference," he said in his hands-on preview.
"More to the point, I was missing shots, and it was initially difficult to time melee hits against enemies. It's not that the input lag makes Doom unplayable, but it makes it harder, and it makes you worse at the game. It's the kind of thing that would make you reboot your console and check your TV settings."
Khan went on to say that after playing Doom on Stadia, he noticed the input lag and latency less than when he first started the demo, and that his "brain and hands compensated" for the difference.
Lucas Sullivan of Games Radar, meanwhile, said that the latency in Doom wasn't noticeable.
"Playing on a wired mouse and keyboard, I was shocked once again by how buttery-smooth everything looked and felt."
While the Google Stadia latency may not be perfect, it definitely seems to work well enough that most people won't have an issue with it. Having said that, it's worth mentioning that these demos took place in San Francisco, California, in relatively close proximity to Google's Stadia data center. It's possible that when Stadia launches across the United States that users elsewhere will have more difficulty than those who tested the product at GDC.
Google Stadia is still an unproven concept, but if it works as intended at launch, it has potential to truly be a major game-changer for the industry. Google Stadia head Phil Harrison has said in an interview with GameSpot that there will "absolutely, unequivocally" not be any latency issues for Stadia, but those interested in the ambitious streaming service will just have to wait and see if he's telling the truth.