Eurogamer: With its free service, Stadia is starting to make sense | JoyFreak

Eurogamer: With its free service, Stadia is starting to make sense

Aries

Administrator
Stadia is now free! Or rather, any Google user can now sign up to the service and access the games library without having to subscribe to the Pro tier or purchase the firm's bespoke controller and Chromecast Ultra 4K HDR receiver. It's a good jumping on point for users interested in the service and as we shall discover, accessing Stadia via Chrome browsers, smartphones or tablets can actually offer a key advantage over the Pro-level 4K Chromecast Ultra experience. In returning to Google's cloud service, we also wanted to take the opportunity to go back to Doom Eternal and revisit our latency metrics - a key point of criticism in prior coverage. Was Stadia just having a bad day when we tested it? Was there something wrong with our network? Could we bring latency back down to the impressive level we saw in our Stadia review?

The good news is that we have managed to reduce latency in our Stadia test set-up, improving the Doom Eternal experience significantly. id Software's port succeeds in pushing an 1800p resolution, excellent visuals and a highly consistent 60fps. However, fast response is a must for a fast-paced first-person shooter and our initial results just weren't good enough. We logged a range of latency results between 79-100ms extra compared to the Xbox One X version of the game - a surprise given the 300Mbps fibre connection behind it. Google itself asked for permission to access our telemetry (which we granted) but our end goal is to give the system and the software the fairest assessment we can, so we spent a lot more time investigating the metrics ourselves and looking to optimise the experience.

And so, for a second test we reduced all variables to the absolute minimum. We plugged the Chromecast Ultra directly into the Virgin Media router via ethernet and as before, Stadia shows the connection status as 'excellent' with 4K streaming confirmed. This time, to ensure no possibility of contention issues, we cut everything off from the router besides the Chromecast itself. All network devices were removed from the pipeline, every device was bumped off the WiFi - with the exception of the Stadia controller of course - to make sure there was zero interference with lag testing. And the result? Instead of the 79-100ms of additional lag on Stadia from the initial test, results at first came in at 54ms in the best case and 75ms in the worst. Note that this is indeed additional lag on top of the game's inherent latency as established with the Xbox measurement - cloud lag, if you like.

It's a big improvement with obvious gameplay advantages but this wasn't case closed - even in this ideal network setup, we encountered frustrations. The next day we tried again in identical conditions and our results went straight back to the high values we had in our initial testing, opening the door to the idea that stripping out all devices from our network wasn't the solution to our underlying problem. The bottom line, for this configuration at least, is that there is a degree of variability that can still affect gaming on Stadia. However, we did finally manage to address the issue. While the Chromecast Ultra/Stadia controller route lacked consistency on our network, we next tested the platform on a Chrome browser with an Xbox One controller directly attached via USB - and that's where we made the breakthrough.

Playing through the Chrome browser, we hit between 45.83 and 66.67ms of latency with a bulk of results coming in at that lower-end reading - and this brings us back to the kind of measurements we observed during our initial Stadia review. Suffice to say that this method makes Doom Eternal easier and more enjoyable to play. The connection between a button press and on-screen action is tighter and the gap closes compared to playing the game on a local connection. The feedback isn't 100 per cent consistent, but it's a remarkable turnaround given the streaming nature of the platform. Despite extensive efforts though, I couldn't achieve such low figures through the Chromecast - but that's not to say it is not possible, as Rich Leadbetter achieved similar results in the review tests. Quite why I had this issue and he didn't is concerning but suffice to say, the takeaway here is straightforward enough: if you're experiencing lag with the Chromecast Ultra and Stadia controller, try another client device where you can hook up a controller directly via USB.

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On Doom Eternal Stadia latency:

The good news is that we have managed to reduce latency in our Stadia test set-up, improving the Doom Eternal experience significantly. id Software's port succeeds in pushing an 1800p resolution, excellent visuals and a highly consistent 60fps. However, fast response is a must for a fast-paced first-person shooter and our initial results just weren't good enough.
Playing through the Chrome browser, we hit between 45.83 and 66.67ms of latency with a bulk of results coming in at that lower-end reading - and this brings us back to the kind of measurements we observed during our initial Stadia review. Suffice to say that this method makes Doom Eternal easier and more enjoyable to play. The connection between a button press and on-screen action is tighter and the gap closes compared to playing the game on a local connection. The feedback isn't 100 per cent consistent, but it's a remarkable turnaround given the streaming nature of the platform.
On the advantages of the free tier:

Obviously, reducing game latency helps cloud-based gaming immensely, and it's here that we return to the original point: the idea that Stadia's free tier actually offers an advantage over the Pro-tier Chromecast Ultra experience. This might sound baffling, but bear with us here. With Red Dead Redemption 2, we saw the Chromecast Ultra/Proexperience deliver the game at 1440p resolution (upscaled to 4K) and 30fps. Meanwhile, running on a phone or browser gives us a 60fps target at 1080p. As the free tier locks out 4K modes completely on any device, this means that RDR2 or any game with a 1080p60 mode offers this as the default and it turns out that Rockstar's behemoth is not the only game that benefits in this way.
On the performance of multiplatform titles:

At this point, we've tested all major Stadia ports and there remains the sense that there's a wealth of potential here but the execution isn't entirely right. There's still the excellent accessibility aspect - super-fast loading of our entire library of games isn't to be sniffed at. And it's great to see titles like The Division 2 hitting 60fps when Xbox One X can't, meaning that developers can tap into CPU performance that's much higher than console counterparts. However, this is offset in many cases by quantifiably lower GPU performance from a graphics core that was promoted as being considerably more powerful. Meanwhile, it's difficult to recommend Stadia's premium subscription when 4K - or sub-native 4K - rendering can come with a profound performance penalty in so many games.
 

Nova

Member
Apart from the device crossplay, there seems to be no need for the stadia. And the people who are spending money on it. I am not sure how exactly they are planning on justifying the service. Too many game stores and the subscriptions are out there.
 

TopSilver

Member
Apart from the device crossplay, there seems to be no need for the stadia. And the people who are spending money on it. I am not sure how exactly they are planning on justifying the service. Too many game stores and the subscriptions are out there.

You got a point there though you won't hear any complaints from me if their service is free. I probably won't be using it regardless since I'm mainly an Xbox One and Nintendo Switch user but still that's not half bad. Guess they realized they weren't going to make that much money off it if they stayed charging people for the service. Seems they'll make more money off console sales instead.
 
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