For all the benefits that cloud-based game streaming may promise, it will live and fall by one word: latency. Beholden to Internet connections and distance from Google’s data servers, Stadia may end up becoming something only a few will be able to enjoy. Like with any problem, however, Google is solving this problem with some machine learning and AI which it dubs as “negative latency”. And if that works well, Google Stadia may indeed be faster than any local PC or console until those reach Star Trek-like FTL speeds.
On a local system, latency can be blamed on things like input lag, heavy system load, display refresh rates, and more. When you factor in online gameplay, you also have to add not only the user’s own bandwidth but also the distance the data has to travel from the closest data center to the gamer’s system. Stadia removes all but bandwidth out of the equation and Google has some sleight of hand to fix that as well.