Apex Legends isn't 'well suited' for streaming services like Stadia, Respawn producer says

Google is promising big things with Stadia, the streaming game service it announced in March, including 4K, 60fps gameplay on just about any hardware that can run the Chrome browser. The quality of your internet access will obviously be a big part of that—you can't reasonably expect it to work well on a slow or unreliable connection, after all.   

But even with all the pieces in place, Respawn executive producer Drew McCoy doesn't think the system will work out for games like Apex Legends. "We tested a lot of streaming solutions in the last five or six years. For the kinds of games we make, I don't think they're well suited," McCoy said in a recent interview with Game Informer

"We're already fighting TV manufacturers and their image processing that's turned on when they pull it out of the box and everything and that adds like 80 milliseconds of input latency. And just because light moves at the speed of light, and not faster, it's only adding more." 

Respawn "put an enormous amount of effort" into minimizing input lag so that it's only a couple of frames behind what you're seeing, but streaming, even under the best possible conditions, works to the opposite effect.

"It's really tough having those problems being taken out of our hands. We can't make whoever's streaming service better," McCoy said. "We want to make our game better and the more reliant on them and a user's internet connection and how many hops they're going through and what kind of crappy Wi-Fi router they got from their internet provider eight years ago—there are so many problems." 

Some games will be "fine" on streaming services, and a lot of players will likely be satisfied with the experience, McCoy said. "And that's okay, but it's not like we want to target fast-paced FPS for streaming." 

Our own experience with Stadia reflects McCoy's concerns: Jarred took the system for a spin in March and it worked, but not perfectly. "At this point I'm not convinced that the latency will be acceptable for fast-paced games, at least for anyone who's used to playing on PC already," he wrote. 

McCoy also touched on the idea of crossplay for Apex Legends, saying that it's an "awesome" idea but "a ginormous amount of effort and work" that the Apex team just isn't big enough to take on right now. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.