Technology

Whatever Stadia is Going For

And my opinion on DRM

Ben Stokman
OneTwentyEight Blog
3 min readFeb 20, 2020

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If you care at all, you might have noticed a small little service from Google called Stadia. Stadia is a gaming service thing that allows users to play games they pay for on any device. Stadia launched a few months ago, only selling the “Founder’s” edition of the service — a $129 bundle that includes a specially-styled controller, a 4k Chromcast, and 3 months of Stadia Pro — a subscription that allows for 4k gameplay and one free game per month.

But as the service has gone out on the world, people notice one huge problem: the quality and latency is terrible.

I do not really understand who Google thinks they are fooling. Input lag — the effect of time it takes for a button to be pressed and the corresponding action to happen on screen — is a huge nuisance in gaming, and Stadia has a lot of it.

Some players, like the one in the tweet above, are reporting 100ms of latency, meaning that whatever someone does, it takes a tenth of a second to appear on screen.

100ms is a lot to the gaming world, but for people who do not know how bad that is: the general latency most people should try and cap out at is 30ms; and that is not input lag, this is just the time that it takes for data to reach the server and back. So if someone has the recommended maximum latency of 30ms, the server sees the data only 15ms after it happens.

I would much rather play a game with 200ms of latency than 100ms of input lag. Almost every online multiplayer game has some form of lag compensation so the effects of lag are diminished.

I do not get what Google thinks with this “any device” bullshit. Wifi tends to add even more latency to connections, and it’s not like you can really play these games anywhere— most public internet connections are still not fast enough to support a 1080p60 stream fast enough to avoid even more input lag.

But the biggest issue I have with this product is DRM.

I’ve seen many products that are trying to take away ownership of games. I am a diehard Steam user, for its Linux support, as well as the fact that any games a user buys on the platform are legally theirs.

My last article was about how Rocket League was dropping Mac and Linux support. In the press release on the matter, Psyonix clearly said that the game will still remain on Mac and Linux, and just won’t receive updates.

They would probably drop the game from the platform entirely if they could, or just drop it from Steam just to try and force people to Epic Games’ store; but they can’t — anyone who has purchased the game is legally entitled to it.

I once saw an XBox that did not have a disc slot. In modern ages — the removal of a CD slot seems like a smart move considering how old it is. But with consoles, the CD slot allows for games to be bought and sold.

The CD is mainly just a license code, and the game has to be downloaded to the console anyway, but the CD can be bought and sold, a game that is bought on the XBox store can not. Players are no longer buying the game, but permission to play the game.

And these services can take that away from you whenever they want. This extends to most digital media stores like iTunes and Google Play.

So I’m happy that Stadia is going nowhere, because it is the regular trash that is infesting the gaming market, complemented by new game streaming trash.

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