The ongoing debacle over Google's streaming service continues, as customers express discontent over the visual fidelity of their streamed games. Prior to the launch of Stadia, VP and general manager of Google, Phil Harrison, had boldly claimed that, "yes, all games at launch support 4K. [...] 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". When the service launched, however, many noticed that those claims didn't turn out to be entirely true.
Eurogamer and Digital Foundry discovered that Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2, both of which are considered as a huge draw to the service, never manage to run at 4K resolution. the latter is rendered at 1440p at maximum, and is then upscaled, while the former is rendered at 1080p, and is upscaled as well.
Red Dead Redemption 2, Stadia's most high-profile port, also doesn't play in true 4K. As Digital Foundry revealed, Red Dead Redemption 2 renders at 1080p or 1440p, depending on what data rate you are using, and is then upscaled to 4K on a Chromecast Ultra. Essentially, Stadia's 4K mode is actually processing fewer pixels than PS4 Pro on its biggest port.
As Digital Foundry puts it: "Perhaps there's something more we're not seeing behind the compression but from a technical perspective, Red Dead 2 on Stadia doesn't seem to be delivering on key marketing promises - certainly not the spirit of them at least. At the reveal, 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 per cent of the X's rendering resolution, while even the 4.2TF 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.
In press conferences and during the reveal of Stadia itself, Google had drawn attention to the fact that their service would offer better graphical performance than both the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X combined, but when put to the test, either console provides a better picture quality for Red Dead Redemption 2 over Stadia. Google offered a response to the lingering questions as to why the quality isn't exactly as advertised, which can be seen in the following quote.
"Stadia streams at 4K and 60 FPS - 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. Developers making Stadia games work hard to deliver the best streaming experience for every game. Like you see on all platforms, this includes a variety of techniques to achieve the best overall quality. 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.
"We expect that many developers can, and in most cases will, continue to improve their games on Stadia. And because Stadia lives in our data centers, developers are able to innovate quickly while delivering even better experiences directly to you without the need for game patches or downloads."
In short, Google states that the rendered graphics of its streamed titles will improve with time, and do indeed output at 4K resolution, even if it is upscaled. This creates a large disconnect from the pre-release promotion, which had promised something a little different.
Tags: [PLATFORM=/platform/stadia]Google Stadia[/PLATFORM]