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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

Destiny 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

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.

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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

23 Comments
  • I also read that MS Xcloud will launch will twice the amount of games Stadia will (aside from the ability to stream xbox/pc titles or something like that). I am finding this whole idea of Stadia not making that much sense tbh.
    If someone plays a lot of games than Xcloud will make more sense (more titles and not having to purchase stuff manually).
    Or if you want exclusives than consoles/PS or pc make more sense.
    If you game on a budget than something like Steam/Gog + controller + sales will save you lots of money in the long run (a midrange pc can be cheap and graphics+lag wise be comparable experience to Xcloud & Stadia).
    Mobile gamers will probably prefer a Switch or (gaming) phone + app store or Ipad or such.
    Not sure how many people that leaves for Stadia (on the other hand Google has the advantage of being able to advertise it easily on youtube etc).
  • The Xcloud test already includes 50 games, which is nice. Aso for stadia's performance, kinda sad as it was trash for me as project steam late last year. A stable 30up/30down connection constantly struggled and was unplayable 90% of the time. As for Xcloud, on wireless it isn't that great for me (same 30/30 connection, Ubiquiti AP with a meraki security device as my router at home) but plugging in my Razer Phone (original model) into a Lumia dock with a USB ethernet adapter and ANY bluetooth controller (unlike Sony's streaming) and it works as a decent console alternative. While I haven't tested it for fighting games, adventure games are mostly smooth with a hiccup here and there.
  • Can you plug a non-Lumia phone into a Lumia dock? I have the one I used with my old Lumia 950 XL. Tried to plug my Xiaomi phone and it complained loudly
  • Having to subscribe AND pay full price for the games is a deal breaker for me
  • That and the controller is proprietary. It can't even be connected to a PC via Bluetooth.
  • Yet, that is being added.
  • Next year, you'll only have to subscribe if you want 4k, HDR and Dolby sound. They're all great things, so I don't know how people will take that. But I think 1080p is enough for most people.
  • @Brian
    You won't NEED to be subscribe and buy the game if you stick with the Stadia base.
    Just buy the game and play it whenever you want...
  • Might I suggest people actually read the Eurogamer article because this site is picking and choosing what it wants to report. Basically, some games are running in 4K, some aren't. You cannot get 4K on PC (it simply isn't supported yet, it will be, but not yet), only on TV and input lag is, obviously, higher than an Xbox One X.
  • The site or Asher Madan?
    The guy expected the local XB1 X to have a more input lag than Stadia. LOL
  • "...and that's a shame." Nope. It's the hoped for result.
  • Still not convinced by stadia as a gamer... I mean who's gonna play it... What does it bring to the table? How is it competing with PC and current console? If Google wants to get into gaming why not start where they are already good at (which by all means ain't cloud so far) mobile... They could have killed it here... I can at best see the same main streamers that bought the Wii played Wii sport for a few month and never touch the thing again... The kind of people that are not gamers that will hear bout it through advertising or word of mouth of people who did... But let m's see what happens... But I'm doubtful, heck I'd be doubtful if Sega was coming back and I'm a Sega (console) fan... For me there isn't enough room for another player... But in the end all that matters is that it will not negatively disrupt the market....
  • "I mean who's gonna play it... "
    Maybe some casuals or people that want to play Stadia exclusives. I'll wait next year to pick up Gylt. "What does it bring to the table?"
    New games "How is it competing with PC and current console?"
    Right now it's not really competing. But the goal is to try to get many people who are just fed up of buying consoles and upgrading their PC to play games. People who wants to be free from hardware limitation. Even though I'm not for streaming games and renting services, I don't see how it's a bad thing to have Google in the market and investing in gaming.
  • Agreed, I'll play Gylt and any other interesting exclusives when the base version comes out. The advantage is that all I have to do is buy the games I'm interested in, no other costs involved.
  • I'll play free games that supports cross-saves. Don't think the service will last so I'm not wasting my time on it.
  • btw, free games == old games.
    And when xCloud is out... why bother? All games on the server syncs with your Xbox/XPA games.
  • I think the difference between you and me is that my priority is games. No matter who makes them. I'll play a Google game, I just finished a MS game few days back and I'm currently playing a EA game that was recently released.
    You seem to support things for different reasons. You seem to have a different priority. Priority I don't believe in.
  • That isn't actually confirmed that all games will be on xCloud, the dialog that is coming out of Microsoft implies it's a switch developers need to turn on, much like BC. I really want it to be the case, but currently I'm going to wait until there is concrete information telling me so. And also I will bother because I like playing games, if a game looks interesting on Stadia and it's only available on Stadia then I will get it. I'm likely still going to have xCloud as well (depending on the quality, I may end up just utilising console streaming like I do with PS4 instead), but I don't see the point of limiting my gaming, I'm an adult, I can afford it, so why not.
  • Well MS needs to get xcloud out yesterday. If they aren't ahead then they will lose
  • Not necessarily, if it is a significantly better experience it might be ok, although if Stadia is actually really bad it might actually prevent people from trying xCloud so there is that to consider. Pricing for xCloud is also a major factor, if they are going to charge for it on top of Ultimate, people are far less likely to jump on board, they'll likely just wait for the free console streaming that's coming (much like people will wait for the free Stadia option.
  • Microsoft already stated at X019 Game Pass will have all its catalog streaming as part of the service. And they talked about streaming your own content (not the console version but XCloud) However they, did not elaborate what that meant (how, cost,etc..). Microsoft is not going to be foolish. The know they have to be competitive from the get go and not let Stadia get any real hold. They have the advantage in content alone (just see what they are doing with Preview compared to Stadias game content). I definitely don't see Microsoft adding another service cost. Streaming items you bought will almost certainly tied to Gold/Ultimate. Maybe basic streaming 1080p and below with Gold and 4K for Ultimate. Maybe go for the Stadia kill shot and provide streaming for free like Stadia for 1080p and below and 4K with Gold (which would make it half the cost of Stadia Premium).
  • Look, I 100% want all of that to be the case, I'm just erring on the side of caution for now. but if my Ultimate subscription gets me Stadia gaming (I don't care if it's 4K or not, it'll mostly be via my phone and tablet anyway, if I'm at home on a TV I'll be attached to a console). My other point still stands though, Microsoft kind of needs Google to NOT drop the ball on this. Because poor experience from one outlet can hinder people's likelihood of using another service, yeah people already in the Xbox ecosystem are going to be on board but that's not who Microsoft really want to target with this, they want people with an Android or iPhone paying a monthly subscription, simple as that. And if they experience Stadia and it sucks, they definitely aren't going to jump ship to another service. This is general consumers I'm talking about, which is the billions of people Google and Microsoft are trying to snap up.
  • I don't think so americans are stupid when it's comes to giving his medical data for nothing ?