News Article

Could The Wii U GamePad Suffer From Latency?

Posted by Damien McFerran

Early hands-on reports suggest so

One of the most impressive aspects of the Wii U's GamePad controller is its ability to stream gameplay directly from the console so you can play on it even when someone else is hogging your television. This facet of the controller could be a massive selling point in homes that boast large families and subsequently experience plenty of competition for dominance in the living room, and is sure to form a large part of Nintendo's promotional campaign for the upcoming system.

However, ShackNews has made a worrying claim regarding the performance of gameplay streaming on the GamePad. The site recently previewed Mass Effect 3, and reported "a tiny bit" of latency.

"I actually preferred playing exclusively on the GamePad, as it was less confusing than the TV hybrid play. However, I felt as though there was a tiny bit of latency. My response time felt slightly slower than when playing on the TV — makes sense, given the Wii U GamePad is receiving a wireless video feed."

While it's worth remembering that until the console is out on store shelves, any preview should be taken with a pinch of salt — it could be that the version of the game ShackNews tested was at fault for the delay, or perhaps Nintendo will make improvements to the way GamePad streaming works before the hardware is put into full production. However, the existence of any kind of latency whatsoever could potentially ruin the experience — and rob the console of one of its most appealing selling points.


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User Comments (53)



GazPlant said:

Depends what a "tiny bit of latency" means. If it's microseconds, that's fine. Minutes, probably not so. And ME3 isn't a great benchmark anyway, it's being handled by an external port team. Just got to wait until finished games start getting reviewing I guess!



SkywardLink98 said:

That could be a deal breaker for me. I like to know what's happening at all times during gameplay and in some games even a 1 second delay could be catastrophic.



Beta said:

Maybe it was the distance between them did that? (assuming he was far frim the Wii U)



Wheels2050 said:

Hmm, I've played enough online games to understand the difference a 'tiny delay' can make - hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come!

@Beta: Light takes about 3ns (3 billionths of a second) to travel 1 metre. You're going to run out into signal strength issues WAY before you run into noticeable delays in the signal transit time.



zeldazero said:

Agreed that a latency issue would definitely hurt alot for this consoles credibility but I am pretty sure Nintendo knows that as well and would never let the console get into consumer hands if they knew there was a flaw with the controller streaming feature.



Moshugan said:

I didn't even know that latency had been a problem with many Wii gamers on LCD screens, until I experienced it myself. I have been playing Wii on my TV with no notable lag, so I was totally surprised and frustrated when I tried playing Skyward with another TV.
So latency would be a game breaking problem.
But this is the only report complaining about this issue. I wouldn't worry.



Moshugan said:

@Sony_70 No, what you're thinking about didn't have anything to do with latency, but framerates being cut in half.



kyuubikid213 said:

"Fortunately, we're pleased to find that latency here is impossible to pick out without some exacting method of measure. In testing the difference, we find results that completely subvert our expectations here; in instances where gameplay is mirrored between the two, the GamePad screen actually renders the image 116ms before the 50-inch LG screen does."

This is what you are looking for from Munky's link. If this isn't true (Munky's link) then I guess I'll be a little upset, but seeing as Wii U games will also use the GamePad in a similar fashion to the DS touchscreen, I'm not really worried that my gaming experience will be ruined.



Shworange said:

The reviewer cant be playing the completed version yet, so I wouldnt worry too much. Besides, even in that preliminary version they stated that they preferred tablet play, so it couldn't have been a major issue. Nintendo must know that the interface needs to be flawless. Otherwise it could spell doom for the company. I'm sure the bugs will be all worked out.



Tempest said:

Seems to be a lot of speculative news articles about things being seen as 'slow' but without any real numbers or facts behind them coming out recently, hard to take them seriously when they're based on individual wi-fi connections and ISP connection speeds and the details of which are seemingly hidden or undisclosed, it's almost as if they're just exaggerating the results to get into the news! Personally I'll wait until I can try it myself when it's finally released to judge whether or not it's actually an issue...



Araknie said:

Tiny bit, like saying it's maybe some millseconds that you notice once in a while.
And the ultimamente version of Wii U is from May, so maybe not a speculative one this one.
But ignoring that this isn't the store version.

Oh, and also, no developer said this thing and they are doing the games.



Wheels2050 said:

@Peppy: I'd assume that they sat the tablet next to the TV and filmed both with a very high frame rate camera. Analysing it later by figuring out the frames at which a given image appeared on the TV and the tablet then gives you the lag.



Pikachupwnage said:

Oh crap all the trolls back on gamefaqs are going to have a field day with this.

Watch them leap to conclusions and say stupid things.

I am not worried I don't think Nintendo would be dumb enough to sell a console that has major latency issues with its selling point. They need this to do well. If there is noticeable latency its probably because the developer was lazy with their game or there was some sort of interference.



rjejr said:

Are these the same guys who posted the 45 minute 3DS download number?

I could see this being a problem on this game - it's a 3rd party port. Anybody who has been following the HD consoles can give you examples of things that work or look better on one system than another. See Bayonetta and Skyrim. I'm not expecting any problems with Nintendo games.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I wonder if it could have anything to with the transmission between Wii U and the TV. (Especially after reading @kyuubikid213 (#11)'s post.)
I don't know if it's just a problem with the Wii / Component cables but i have to put my TV in Game Mode to get a lag-free experience there. (At least that's the case for games that don't have a "delay calibration" like the Rock Band's and Guitar Hero's out there.)
If so it's understandable that the Game Pad would display faster since the console can't know how long it takes for the signal to the TV. (At least if it doesn't have said "delay calibration".)

I haven't preordered one yet anyway so i can easily wait for reports about the finalized console and games.

PS: Even if the video lag is acceptable by itself it could still be weird when the audio output doesn't fit what you see anymore.



KatoStudios said:

Nintendo showcased these Wii U models many months back. What had been tested for this article was what is (in the game world) known as a "Trial" unit. These units are obviously not going to be the final deal, they are just meant to be showcasing these games. Over the years, xbox and ps3 had shown many problems during showcases, which were resolved before they were released. Of course there "could" be some millisecond lag, but this i guarantee would not affect the way you play the game. It would be more than fast enough to play. Especially with the gamepad's high rate of wifi data transfer. Any latency over the wifi is simply a developer coding issue. The gamepad can transfer fast enough. This latency is definitely a problem with the game and how it was coded, and I'm sure it will be resolved in no time. Actually by now It probably is.



KatoStudios said:

@Pikachupwnage Completely agree with you. I also highly doubt they would release it with problems like this, but most likely any latency is because of the game developers, and those games tested were not full release ones.



KatoStudios said:

@Tempest Exactly. People always exxagerate about upcoming consoles to get everyone worried. And it isn't working on me. I know everything that I can/need to know about the Wii U, and it is very impressive. Definitely worth buying. Im sure I'll get more use out of it than with my PS3 seeing as it has awesome games coming like Zombiu (which is a launch title).



KatoStudios said:

@TimboBaggins This article has unconfirmed information. This is not an issue with the gamepad. I personally tested a gamepad and had no issues playing on a single screen. The booth representative freely showed me how to do so, and it was great. For me it was just as responsive. So I would not believe this article. Also people complain about a pour resolution, or touch screen. For me it was great, i loved it. Not too high resolution, but enough to make the gamepad more than worth using. I loved just looking at it. It was great, easy to hold, and the best thing a video game system could ever make. I can't wait to own one.



KatoStudios said:

@Moshugan LCD tv's dont take game console/dvd player input at as high of a rate as LED. People also report this happening with xbox and ps3 when using a LCD. This is often just because of the way their TV was made, and what brand. But sometimes the console it to blame. But things get fixed. I never had this problem with my LED or LCD tv's.



Kage_88 said:

I can't believe people are actually worried about this.

First, this input delay could be attributed to ANYTHING; signal interference in the environment, pre-alpha build, or simply the fact that Bioware are being a little incompetent with their programming (I'd say the second one).

Second, after spending millions on the Wii U's R&D, I doubt Nintendo have overlooked the problems of latency regarding the GamePad. That's just silly.

Third; it seems to me this whole article from ShackNews has been blown out of proportion simply because the writer reported a few niggles with the GamePad. Like NL said, it's the '45 min download' fiasco all over again. The internet LOVES exaggerating this crap.

The input for the Wii U GamePad WILL BE FINE. You have good ol' Kage's guarantee, ya hear?

Oh, and I agree with Pikachupwnage...the morons on Gamefaqs will be going into overdrive!



Chunky_Droid said:

Can't say from personal experience because I haven't played a unit yet, but I can't see Nintendo releasing this if it were a major issue, otherwise it'd defeat the purpose of half the console.



Scollurio said:

Honestly the Wii U - for me - has a long way of proving itself, why they not just went with remotes and pro controller instead of this gimicky tablet thing is beyond me, its dropping its framerate, its lagging - which from technical perspective is easily understandable - and no one so far makes real use of it and i've heard lots of times - even in this very article - that playing on 2 screens more often is confusing or hindering the experience than really helping it. If this came around negatively, Im sorry, because I really see Nintendo as a big player in the industry and love it since Im like 6 years old, but still there is no appeal of the Wii U thats reaching home to me. Im happy with my 3DS XL and I really think I might get a Wii when its even cheaper close to Wii U launch to experience all that awesome titles I've missed while I've been playing XBOX 360!



AVahne said:

Hands-on at events say that there's barely any latency, so little that it doesn't effect gameplay at all. This person must have impossibly fast eyes.



c1pher_c0mplet said:

I doubt it's an issue. But I get to see for myself in a couple weeks before school at the Wii U Event.



warvad said:


Anyone with a Rhythm Tengoku avatar should fear for their lives at the mention of any sort of latency.

I seriously doubt many Wii titles will even render at 1080p, so it looks like if I want lagless play I'm stuck with standard definition CRTs for ANOTHER generation, Nintendo...



skywake said:

A tiny bit? Sounds like the sort of latency you'd expect to experience ... when there isn't any but you assume there must be some given it's wireless. Like the latency introduced by WiFi that people panic about despite it being less than the lag introduced by most screens.



BJQ1972 said:

Typically HDTVs can introduce anything up to around 100ms of input lag, so digital foundrys analysis that it is 116ms faster than the LG TV is probably accurate - LG are probably the worst of the major manufacturers in terms of input lag.



Scollurio said:

@SuperSonic95 What? Who said im 6 years old? Ah god I just read it again, sorry it was my iphone fubaring it up! Im on mac now. Sorry. Yes I had a Wii a while back, then sold it because of lack of games, got in to xbox360, now Im rediscovering wii and actually notice that its the best time to get one, I can get games cheap off ebay and even the console itself is constantly dropping in price, good times! Sorry for that silly comment. Iphone auto-correction sucks!



hYdeks said:

As something unique and incredible as the gamepad, I'll let a couple lil problems go by playing a game like Mass Effect 3 on the controller alone is enough of an achievement, alil latency issue isn't a biggie.



DonnyKD said:

Oh my god!

Some random guy we never heard of before said something about the Wii U that is contradictory to well established statements and doesn't make sense in general (so the Wii U GamePad is faster when its feeding OFF the TV) that was also never ever stated or confirmed by anyone else!




Xilef said:

Given that it was the first time we (at least i) have heard something like this, i'm not worried.



jdarrell said:

"Nintendo recognises this, and has made a point of highlighting the “close to zero” latency of the Wii U GamePad, where the image is processed so quickly that it generally outperforms the main display – not that this is necessarily a good thing, as lag between first and second screen is a problem in and of itself, which I’m sure will give some developers headaches."

I'll wait before getting worried.



Slapshot said:

That's worrying news indeed. Any noticeable latency isn't good for a console in this generation. Peripherals having latency is one thing, but a console itself could be a very troubling issue. I truly hope Nintendo is one top of this issue right now!



StarDust4Ever said:

There's simply no reason to have more than 16.67ms NTSC or 20ms PAL (one frame's worth) of latency on any video game console.

Some HDTV's have bad latency, others play just fine. Unfortunately, with latency being the most critical statistic when shopping for a HDTV set with gaming in mind, it is almost always omitted from the spec sheet.



Kafei2006 said:

Didn't the Tekken Tag Tournament 2 producer already answer that question, saying that the latency was under 1 frame ? (thus less than 1/60 of a second). I thought he did though...



Neram said:

Didn't Iwata say at 2010's E3 that there would be no latency issues? I'm sure Nintendo would make that a priority when making something like the GamePad.



Bankai said:

There's a little bit of latency when using AirPlay too.

Honestly though, it's not a big deal.



Henmii said:

Won't affect me because: Why would I play the entire game on my Wii u Gamepad if I have a nice tv-screen IN FRONT OF ME!!!



sebman30 said:

i didnt even know u could play all those games on the gamepad i thought it was only for the new mario so im cool with this

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