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Google Stadia doesn't run Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2 at 4K resolution, exhibits more input lag than Xbox One X

Google Stadia
Google Stadia (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Stadia is a game streaming service that launched today.
  • Google claims that all games run at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second on the system, but that's not the case.
  • Digital Foundry uncovered that Destiny 2 was 1080p and Red Dead Redemption 2 was 1440p.
  • The input lag is also higher compared to Xbox One X.

Google Stadia is a game streaming service that launched today. It features 22 games like Rage 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2, with a couple more promised by the end of the year. While this selection pales in comparison with Microsoft's Project xCloud, which offers 50 games already, the question a lot of gamers are asking is how does the visual quality compare to Xbox One X.

The Xbox One X is a few years old now, but it's still the "most powerful console in the world." It features 6 teraflops (tflops) of processing power, whereas Stadia has over 10 tflops. Given the power difference, you would expect games to look much better on Stadia than they do on Xbox One X, but shockingly enough, that's not the case. Before we discuss Digital Foundry's findings, let's preface this discussion by saying that Stadia offers a video stream. The fact that it's a video of a game running on hardware located hundreds of miles away means that the image quality will be compressed and have artifacts. It won't look as good as a native 4K experience being pushed directly to your TV. Games that are mostly static like Kine will look great, but motion-heavy experiences like Shadow of the Tomb Raider will appear blurry.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Digital Foundry started off by comparing input lag on Xbox One X and Stadia. Since Xbox One X doesn't beam an image from the cloud, the input lag is a lot less. Even games like Destiny 2, which run at 60 frames per second (FPS) on Stadia and 30 FPS on Xbox One X, exhibited more input lag on Stadia. This is surprising because increasing the frame rate usually halves the input lag. Destiny 2's input lag on Xbox One X was 100 milliseconds (ms) and 144 ms on Stadia. This can make aiming, even in 60 FPS, a little difficult.

However, if you compare 60 FPS games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider between the two devices, the findings remain the same. Mortal Kombat 11 exhibited 78 ms of input lag on Xbox One X compared to 122 ms on Stadia. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, when the 60 FPS option was engaged, exhibited 83 ms input lag on Xbox One X, but 139 ms on Stadia. If you choose to go with Resolution Mode on Stadia for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, then the input lag goes over 200 ms, which is essentially unplayable for hardcore gamers.

Now comes the part about resolution. According to Google, all games on Stadia can run at 4K resolution and 60 FPS. Digital Foundry found out that that wasn't the case. Destiny 2 may run at 60 FPS on Stadia, but it's locked to 1080p. This means that it looks incredibly blurry on a 4K display since it's being upscaled and is just a video stream. The Xbox One X version of Destiny 2 runs at native 4K resolution, but it's locked to 30 FPS. The same applies to Red Dead Redemption 2.

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Red Dead Redemption 2 runs at native 4K resolution on Xbox One X and is locked to 30 FPS. The Stadia version, if you try to play it with a Chromecast Ultra, renders at 1440p and 30 FPS. So playing the game on a large display is a bad idea because the image quality is much worse than even the PlayStation 4 Pro port. Oddly enough, Digital Foundry said that if you used Google Chrome on PC, the game renders at 60 FPS at a lower resolution.

Given the power gap between Xbox One X and Stadia, we would expect all games to be 4K 60 FPS on Google's hardware, but that's not the case. It's unclear if this is due to difficult development tools or problems with the servers. Hopefully, Google offer more clarification soon because the company's 4K 60 FPS claims fall flat when it comes to Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2. If you were looking into purchasing Stadia hoping that it would offer better visuals, keep in mind that it offers better frame rates, but that advantage is offset by the increased input lag which makes aiming in Destiny 2 a little difficult, especially in player vs. player encounters.

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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.

  • Stadia feels so rushed. How can it use the same game dev techniques as Consoles but fails to do better being a "better, more power" platform 🤦‍♂️
  • Good that it features Rage 2. It's on Game Pass too, so it will be really easy to compare both services when Xcloud can play it too. About Stadia, yeah, awful. Definitely rushed and tbh, technical problems. But even that is not the real problem. No real catalog and having to buy games to play them, a streaming only platform that doesn't really exist as a platform. Dead on arrival.
  • Are we really comparing input lag of a streaming game to the current fastest console? That shouldn't even be considered. It's LOCAL, so of course it has less lag. Now if we are talking about less lag when streamed from Xcloud or even your home console, that's a different story.
  • True
    But actually Google asked for it with their "negative lag" bull****
  • Yes. Yes we are because Google has many times claimed that their system will magically have less latency and lag than a console played locally.
    From an engadget puff piece, I mean interview Stadia's VP of Engineering Madj Bakar said "the platform will be more responsive than consoles".
    Not just that but by the same kind of magic they are claiming that in the future there will be 'negative latency'. So yes, it IS being compared to local consoles and it should given what the stadia guys at google keep on claiming (despite that pesky reality thing getting in their way).
  • You are talking about the company that also claims that about the only way to get a computer with virus protection or all day battery is to buy a Chromebook. I care little about what they say. I do care about this site trying to fault a system for not defying the laws of physics and comparing it to a system that isn't even the same. Compare it to Xcloud. Stop playing into the fan boy console (streaming) wars gotcha points.
  • Asher Madan- "Digital Foundry started off by comparing input lag on Xbox One X and Stadia. Since Xbox One X doesn't beam an image from the cloud, the input lag is a lot less. Even games like Destiny 2, which run at 60 frames per second (FPS) on Stadia and 30 FPS on Xbox One X, exhibited more input lag on Stadia. This is surprising because increasing the frame rate usually halves the input lag." Sorry, I didn't understand that. Did you think that Stadia would have better input leg than the XB1 X? Anyway, all this doesn't really surprise me much. And this is what they said about Richard Leadbetter from Digital foundry said: "As a technological statement, Stadia impresses with the best image quality and latency I've seen from a streaming platform".
    I guess this tells us more about streaming game than anything else. So much for all the Richard Loveridge talk, when he was trying to sell XCloud... Anyway, the only thing I'm looking for with Google's Stadia is what games they'll have. Glyt really looks good. That may be the only game I play from them...
  • If a game runs at 60 FPS on Stadia, and 30 FPS on Xbox One X, then it's reasonable to expect it has less input lag or the same than Xbox One X because increasing the frame rate makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, here, the base input lag value is so high that it doesn't make a difference.
  • Thst makes no sense when you are talking about feet of cable in the X instead hundreds of miles and different routing points with anything streaming on the internet. Physics are a real thing and even electrons have to follow those laws.
  • It does actually, in theory if you double the frame rate, you half the input latency so for instance, from the Euroogamer article: Tombraider XBOX 60FPS - 83ms / 30FPS 167ms
    Tombraider Stadia 60FPS - 139ms / 30FPS 217ms What Asher is referencing is Destiny 2, which is 100ms on XBOX at 30FPS, but 144ms on Stadia at 60FPS, that is an anomaly (100ms at 30 frames though is ridiculously compared to the rest of the games tested) and in theory, shouldn't happen. Although it does depend on what the input latency on XBOX would be at 60 frames, I mean, in theory it should be 50ms based on the math, but that is, again, ludicrously low for any console game. Basically across the board, the stadia seems to add approximately 40-60ms extra lag, over playing locally
  • Sin, if both things were at the same starting point, then yes this is correct, but they aren't. Look at your ping to a local server, half of this is the amount of time it takes to even reach the server. Are we making the comparison subtracting the time it takes to reach the server (like runners in a oval track starting in different positions to achieve the same distance) or are we just flat out using the same starting point of a button press to a response?
  • What are you talking about? Like Avatar of Apathy said, how can you expect a console played locally to have more input lag than one moving through internet? Oh well...
  • Here is an important piece of info that Eurogamer didn't touch on but is equally as useful, "In my tests, playing each game for about 30 minutes (a total of 2.5 hours of game time) at 4K consumed around 40GB of data, with Mortal Kombat using up the most data in its story mode. Every game is going to take up a different amount of data based on the bitrate needed to maintain a quality video signal. The more the images on screen change, the more data used. Based on our live data usage, the highest spikes represented the most activity happening on screen; Mortal Kombat topped out at around 6 MB/s, while Kine maxed out at around 8 MB/s, surprisingly." That's from a PC Gamer article regarding their Stadia tests. So at 4K you are going to chew through DATA, no doubt about it. There's a link to the article, they are actually less positive about Stadia than Eurogamer, though they give props where its due, and basically say that when it works well, it is incredible. but the "recommended" 35mbps data rate isn't sufficient for all games (single player yes, multiplayer no, basically).