Early tests call Google Stadia's picture quality into question, and that's a shame

Google Stadia
Google Stadia (Image credit: Windows Central)

Google Stadia is a cloud game streaming service that promises the best visuals given its power advantage over the competition. When the service was first revealed, the company said that it featured 10.7 teraflops (tflops) of computational power compared to 6 tflops for the Xbox One X and 4.2 tflops for the PlayStation 4 Pro. Naturally, gamers assumed that this would mean that every game was going to be at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second (FPS). However, a recent analysis by Digital Foundry revealed that that wasn't the case at all for many major titles.

Destiny 2 runs at native 4K resolution on Xbox One X, but it's locked to 30 FPS. Since the base Xbox One version also runs at 30 FPS, the team probably didn't want to give any players an advantage over the rest. On Stadia, Destiny 2 hits 60 FPS, but it's locked to 1080p resolution. This is a curious decision by Bungie because hardware that has 10.7 tflops should be able to run Destiny 2 at 4K 60 FPS. Hopefully, the team will change this with a future patch.

Destiny 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is another curious case. If you play it in Google Chrome on PC, the game renders at 60 FPS. Unfortunately, the image quality is locked to 1080p. Jumping to a Chromecast Ultra should give you a 4K picture, but it doesn't. The game looks blurry and Digital Foundry found that it's running at 1440p resolution and 30 FPS on Google Stadia's servers. Again, it's unclear why that's the case given the powerful hardware.

The outlet hypothesized that it was due to developers' unfamiliarity with the devkit and it would take some time for them to take complete advantage of it. Either way, the company shouldn't be boasting about "up to 4K" and "60 FPS" when many games don't even take advantage of the hardware. It seems like the team is unaware of the fact that Bungie and Rockstar Games aren't rendering their games at 4K resolution on Stadia. It doesn't matter what the reason it, consumers will think this is a corporation lying to them again.

Hopefully, Google will work with these developers to fix the problems. Since Stadia may be many gamers' first introduction to cloud gaming, it's not making a great impression. Social media is flooded with messages where customer service won't cancel preorders, how many gamers are blurry and only a handful "look like 4K," and much more. Google needs to tackle all of these complaints head-on because the Stadia launch looks awfully familiar to what happened with the Xbox One all those years ago. We all know how that turned out.

Asher Madan
  • The service has all the signs of the typical Google project.
  • If not, worse. At this point it would be like if the pixel was released and all you could do is make phone calls and text and the appstore was Amazon's with Google play coming in a future update.
  • I'm a huge Stadia skeptic, as someone with far too many old consoles and games, i hate the very concept. But, let's give them a few weeks to perfect this incredibly complicated system.
  • I would say it's going to take closer to months or a year. This is going to be very evolutionary.