Google is blatantly lying about the quality of Stadia’s games, and that’s not okay
Google Stadia is an ambitious project that, unfortunately, is off to a rough start, thanks to lofty expectations, head-scratching decisions, and annoying hiccups. However, looking past most of that, the biggest problem that Stadia currently faces is that Google has been blatantly lying about the quality of 4K games on the service.
With reviews and now more users starting to jump on Stadia, it’s become apparent quickly that the visual quality of games isn’t up to par with other services. This could be partially to blame for the streaming nature of games, but it’s been proven already that this simply isn’t the case.
In its review, the Verge spoke to Bungie, the developers behind Destiny 2, and confirmed that Stadia’s version of the game isn’t the same 4K version as on other platforms. Rather, Destiny 2 on Stadia renders at 1080p and is upscaled to improve the quality. In other words, Destiny 2 currently never plays in 4K on Stadia.
The problem extends to other games, too. Red Dead Redemption 2, another big name for the platform, also doesn’t play in true 4K. Eurogamer confirmed that the game only renders at 1440p and is then upscaled to 4K on a Chromecast Ultra. The quality difference is also very obvious when you look at the game side-by-side with its 4K version on the Xbox One X.
It’s absolutely no contest compared to the Xbox One X and it only uses 44% of the pixel count. Apparently Stadia is 80% faster than XB1X and yet it only runs at 1440p and 30FPS.
In the case of Red Dead Redemption 2, some of the blame is very likely on Rockstar itself since the PC version of the game, which Stadia’s copy is based on, has had many issues. However, it’s just another example of where Google is blatantly lying about the 4K quality of games on Stadia.
Google’s Phil Harrison explicitly said that all games will be running at 4K 60fps, but Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2 simply don’t. Rather, they’re upscaled to meet that.
Worse yet, there was a tweet that seemingly confirmed Red Dead Redemption 2 would run at 4K, but that tweet has since been deleted.
Since the first reveal of Stadia, Google has bragged about the powerful hardware running the service and how it can handle 4K at 60fps without breaking a sweat, even leveraging multiple instances to better improve the quality. So far, though, we’ve yet to see Stadia actually pulling that off. If the company had said that some games ran at lower resolutions and relied on upscaling or even pushed the underlying hardware prowess less, this would be less of a problem.
Google clearly has the power to fix this, and I genuinely hope they do.
I can forgive Stadia for some of its shortcomings for now because, whether Google wants to admit it or not, the service is essentially in beta right now. Stadia won’t matter for a year. But if Google thinks it can blatantly lie about the quality of its games like this, they’re wrong.