Google has finally responded to complaints that Stadia isn’t hitting its promised 4K/60 fps quality levels.
“Stadia streams at 4K and 60 FPS,” the Google statement claims. “And that includes all aspects of our graphics pipeline from game to screen: GPU, encoder and Chromecast Ultra all outputting at 4k to 4k TVs, with the appropriate internet connection … We give developers the freedom of how to achieve the best image quality and framerate on Stadia and we are impressed with what they have been able to achieve for day one.”
That last bit seems designed to give Google a bit of wiggle room, since the experts at Digital Foundry and others have consistently found that Stadia games typically do not display at 4K, nor do they achieve 60 fps. Instead, many games seem to be upscaled from 1440p or even 1080p.
“Red Dead Redemption 2 on Stadia doesn’t seem to be delivering on key marketing promises,” the Digital Foundry explains. “We were told that Stadia’s GPU has the power of Xbox One X and PS4 Pro graphics combined, yet RDR2 on Stadia only has 44 percent of the X’s rendering resolution, while even the [less capable] PS4 Pro GPU is generating a higher pixel-count (even before factoring in its checkerboarding upscale). Stadia’s GPU seems to be an offshoot of AMD’s RX Vega 56 based on its specs, yet in 1080p mode, performance is more in line with the PC version running on a much less capable RX 570 or RX 580.”
The issue, of course, is that Google did promise that all Stadia games would run at 4K/60 fps.
“Yes, all games at launch support 4K,” Google VP Phil Harrison tweeted back in October. “We designed Stadia to enable 4K/60 (with appropriate TV and bandwidth). We want all games to play 4K/60 but sometimes for artistic reasons a game is 4K/30 so Stadia always streams at 4K/60 via 2x encode.”
1440p and 1080p are not 4K, of course. So it appears that while the Chromecast Ultra does output in 4K, it’s not always at 60 fps, and it’s often upscaled from a lower resolution. Put simply, Google is not meeting the letter or the spirit of its quality promises for the game streaming service.