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Google Stadia wants to beat lag by predicting what you'll do next

Google Stadia's initial salvo — its Founder's Edition launch — is set to take place sometime next month, yet some gamers are still concerned about the service's viability. How will it handle lag, for instance? How will Stadia combat the latency introduced by streaming games over the internet rather than playing them natively?

It seems those on the Google Stadia team already have a few things in mind. In an interview with EDGE (by way of PCGamesN), Google Stadia's top engineer, Madj Bakar, talked about some of the ways Google hopes to not only make latency a non-factor when it comes to gaming on Stadia, but actually make Stadia faster than playing on PC or console. Faster? Yeah, it sounds pretty unbelievable, but we'll explain.

One idea is to have Google Stadia temporarily increase the frame rate a game is running at, so that inputs can register more quickly. That solution seems reasonable enough, and we doubt anyone would take great offense to it. 

The second idea, however, might set off some alarms. It involves Google trying to predict your next button press in order to cut latency entirely out of the equation, and maybe we're just old-fashioned, but this does not sound like a good idea.

Have you ever been frustrated by a game with poor controls? One that doesn't do what you want it to, even though you seem to be pushing the analog stick in the right direction or pressing the right buttons? Imagine that not as a bug now, but a feature; that the next time you jump instead of sliding in Destiny 2, it's because Google Stadia thought that's what you wanted to do instead of just doing what you asked.

And really, the idea of Google's artificial intelligence playing on our behalf just feels wrong. If you pull off an amazing shot in a first-person shooter or perfectly nail a jump in a platformer, you'll have to wonder if your own coordination was to thank or if Google "guessed" correctly on your behalf. That just doesn't sound fun at all.

Will these ideas ever come to pass? We're honestly not sure. These could be on Stadia's roadmap for the future, or they could just be pie-in-the-sky ideas for how to deal with a very real problem Stadia will face. We hope, though, that in its quest to make games on Stadia more playable, Google doesn't end up playing the games for us.