As many predicted, Apex Legends and other stream-intensive games are not likely to appear on the upcoming Stadia. While Google is actively promoting their new project and promising that it can offer players a 4K experience at 60fps, the individual experience is going to vary wildly depending on the quality of one's internet access.
Even if by some miracle all of the requirements for perfect streaming fall into place perfectly, Respawn executive producer Drew McCoy is unconvinced that the Stadia will workout for games similar to Apex Legends, stating in an recent interview with Game Informer that "We tested a lot of streaming solutions in the last five or six years. For the kinds of games we make, I don't think they're well suited."
The issue primarily is one of dealing with all the factors that can cause input lag. There is a miniscule window of lag between input and the reaction on screen where a player will not notice a perceptible delay, but that often limited to about 100 milliseconds. McCoy continues to describe how "We're already fighting TV manufacturers and their image processing that's turned on when they pull it out of the box and everything and that adds like 80 milliseconds of input latency. And just because light moves at the speed of light, and not faster, it's only adding more."
For clarity, a television that offers around 30 milliseconds of input lag is not at all noticeable, but this is changing depending on the company developing certain televisions or monitors.
Still, the team at Respawn also had some success in their attempts to stream at optimal conditions, saying that it was good enough, even if it was not perfect.
Therein lies the greatest challenge for the Stadia at launch. It truly feels as though whoever designed the Stadia's concept as a streaming device for games did so under the assumption that a user will have unlimited data from their Internet Service Provider, will never be throttled, and has no other people in the home using any bandwidth to affect performance.
For the Stadia to work as advertised, all of these conditions must be perfectly synced, and the absence of any will make the game noticeably lag. For many single player games this may not be a big deal, but for anything similar to Apex Legends such as Fortnite, or the raiding elements of Destiny 2 or The Division 2, noticeable input lag may render the Stadia unreliable. What would lure a consumer over from their dependable PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC, if there are no significant benefits, only numerous potential downsides?
Still, these are all questions that should be answered in the coming months. There is little doubt that Google has long considered the majority of these issues, and they must have something in place. Otherwise, the Stadia might be the Ouya of 2019.
The Google Stadia will launch in November of 2019.