• Google Stadia has finally kicked off its launch today, releasing eight months after its announcement back in March of this year. Google planned to create a "Netflix" of gaming, of sorts, by allowing players to stream games to any device, be it a netbook laptop's browser, a phone mobile app, or a TV's Chromecast, removing the need to own an expensive gaming console. Theoretically, Google would lower the barrier of entry, and allow millions to play the latest and greatest that gaming had to offer, in a simple and casual manner.

    Initially, many took issue with the idea of streaming video games across the country, as data caps, input lag, and slow connections would likely stand in the way of consistent performance. A month prior to launch, in October, Google promised that latency would not be a problem with Stadia, as they claimed their servers and technology would be able to easily handle streaming 4K 60FPS video games to its customers, without issue. There was even an official statement of how Google Stadia would have "negative" latency, and would offer a more responsive experience than playing games locally, in the coming future.

    But latency is the thing that gets the most attention. And while it's already proven to be more than playable, [Madj Bakar, VP of Engineering] expects further improvements. "Ultimately, we think, in a year or two, we'll have games that are running faster and feel more responsive in the cloud that they do locally, regardless of how powerful the local machine is," he claims. These improvements will come via a term which sounds rather slippery. "Negative latency" is a concept by which Stadia can set up a game with a buffer of predicted latency between the server and player, and then use various methods to undercut it. It can run the game at a super-fast framerate so it can act on player inputs earlier, or it can predict a player's button presses. These tricks can help the game feel more responsive, potentially more so than a console game running locally at 30fps with a wireless controller.
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    This only served to create more controversy for the service, with many skeptical of such a concept even being possible. Those claims are looking to be even more impossible in the near future, as Stadia is having issues with streaming games upon its first day of release.

    For many, this isn't a surprise at all. Digital Foundry, and its parent publication, Eurogamer, took Stadia out for a test drive with the Founder's Pack, describing their time with the service as "incomplete", and "basic". More importantly, though, they measured the exact input lag, comparing Stadia against an Xbox One X.