Google’s Stadia has done a launch; let the criticism commence! Okay that’s a bit cynical, but the fact is the great new hope for streaming services hasn’t set the world alight in its initial wave of reviews. It’s also, it appears, not quite living up to the promises Google said it actually would live up to, with reports emerging titles are running at below 4K resolution, and certainly coming in at under 60 frames per second in some cases.
As reported by Digital Foundry, there’s a mix of approaches in the games from Stadia’s launch lineup. While you might hope every game would hit the advertised 4K60 threshold, few if any actually do. Notably Destiny 2, while running at 60fps, is actually an upscaled 1080p image rather than native 4K – an upgrade in frame rate over the console versions, but a downgrade in pixel count. Sorry for writing ‘pixel count’, but needs must.
More interestingly, Red Dead Redemption 2 – by DF’s count – displays a 1440p image upscaled to 4K, and runs at 30fps via Chromecast Ultra. The dongle is Google’s preferred way for you to use Stadia right now, and is listed as the only way currently to get that holy grail of 4K60 performance – but apparently that’s not the case here. A quick test of the game in Chrome showed a 1080p resolution and 60fps, meaning it’s not just a random doohickey in the backend – there’s a decision happened to limit the game in some way.
It might seem picky and pernickety to land on things like this as proof Stadia isn’t all that – and in many ways it is – but the simple fact is Google has advertised the system as featuring a certain image quality and fluidity that, seemingly, isn’t present right now.
Surely things will be fixed over time, including all those missing features being added, but right now – and at the risk of editorialising – there’s not much to be excited about with Stadia, and much more to be concerned about.
Wireframe issue 26 is out now.