The philosophy of the Google Stadia is simple: Gamers no longer have to build a high spec gaming pc or purchase a gaming console: Instead, they can pay a monthly subscription and Google’s designated data centers take care of the intense processing and streaming to the gamer’s platform.
Many gamers were surprised to see that they can effortlessly play high demanding games on their smartphones. However, it’s all fun and games until the lag kicks in. Unfortunately, there are many times when latency takes all the fun away: Occasionally, the time between pressing a button and seeing a character do the corresponding action might be truly game-breaking.
The service will most likely see great improvement over time (and it already progressed a lot since the release, even though little time passed).
Why does the Stadia lag in situations when consoles don’t?
When buying a video game console, users acquire hardware, which is usually reliable and delivers steady performance. However, when utilising the Google Stadia, they access a service (a streaming service, sort of), which, just like any service that is internet based, can behave unpredictably and even fail miserably.
When running the Stadia on a browser or LCD 4K television set, lag made single player games a very unpleasant experience, and multiplayer games were simply unplayable. There’s no chance to shoot precisely in any sort of shooter game and in some cases, even walking in a straight line is impossible without intense focus and patience.
At the moment it looks like the lag problem usually occurs on the Google Chromecast Ultra. This happens because the “Chromecast does not support WPA2-Enterprise networks. Stadia’s TV experience with Chromecast is designed for home networks where the Stadia controller and Chromecast are on the same Local Area Network,” according to Google. This is no surprise as the company warned users about this mishap way ahead of the official launch of Stadia. A spokesperson from Google stated that corporate networks aren’t always suitable for the service in its present form:
“Corporate networks tend to be congested due to a high volume of activity, which is counter-productive to ensuring you have a smooth gaming experience where processing happens in real time.”
The good news is that on phones like the Google Pixel 3a XL, there is almost no lag at all, so gamers who want to make the most out of the Google Stadia should focus their attention on mobile phones rather than other devices.
It looks like, when connected to high speed networks, smartphone always outperform browsers and TV sets.
Unfortunately, PC users can’t fiddle with the settings of the Stadia in the way they used to with their gaming rigs, because there is no way to modify settings like resolution, aspect ratio, texture quality, effects and other small but important details like they can on computers.
Requirements for best performance
According to Google, users of the Stadia have to be connected to a network that can reliably provide a connection that is faster than 35Mbps in order to play 4K games in flawless 60 frames per second.
All flaws aside, Google is working hard to significantly improve the quality of the Stadia service.
The good news is that Google is heavily committed on making the Stadia a successful product, and when a giant like Google sets their mind on something, success is most likely guaranteed, so gamers can safely get their hopes up.