Tech

Cloud gaming in the test: the stream jerks softly


We can stream the game streaming! It's no joke, and it works better than expected. On a Shadow Blade streaming machine-and finally a virtual machine designed for gaming-we tested Destiny 2 on Google Stadia, and a little later on GTA 5 on Playstation Now, two more streaming services. Of course we lost track of so much "indirect" access to games, but the games ran fast enough.

However, there were sometimes noticeable latencies. At Destiny 2 on Shadow Blade and Stadia, the mouse also played crazy from time to time, but the setup worked most of the time. When combining Playstation Now and Shadow Blade, we found it impressive that the services recognized and supported the gamepad required for GTA 5 immediately upon connection. While not as the Dualshock 4 we actually used, but mistakenly as a third-party controller. The whole thing worked but without problems.

Not everything in game streaming works as well as the nested use of the services. A point that is currently the focus of many discussions in forums: the already mentioned latency, ie the delay between pressing a button on the keyboard or gamepad and the corresponding action in the game. If, for example, the time between the triggering of the shooting command and the actual shot takes too long, no meaningful action is possible.

Of the four tried-and-tested streaming services – Google Stadia, Playstation Now, Geforce Now and Shadow Blade – only the latter two have built-in latency indicators – which, however, are not very meaningful in practice.

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To get at least a rough idea of ​​the delays, we have one from Digital Foundry thought process taken over: We filmed by slow motion video the push of a button and the action on the screen and then determined by the number of frames the approximate latency.

This involves a great deal of effort and problems – such as when a key is really "pressed" when only the fast triggering takes between 10 and 15 frames. Most importantly, we've found that the results have little meaning about the actual gaming experience.

For one, the numbers vary enormously within the services. On the other hand, bad values ​​are hardly reflected in the feeling of play. So we have the biggest delay in the PC version of Playstation Now in God of War measured, namely horrendous 550 milliseconds, just over half a second.

Subjectively we have never felt that way in the action game, God of War is quite playable in the stream on the PC. It works better only with the client on the Playstation 4, which usually responds with wireless transmission delayed by 100 milliseconds, which is not noticeable in practice.

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