Even if you set aside all the latency complications, the visual makeup of games on Stadia seemingly won’t convince anyone to make the jump.
As you’ve probably seen by now from all the Stadia reviews, the service is not ready for primetime. Aside from launch day problems and missing features, some of the biggest games don’t look like they’re running on powerful hardware.
Stadia uses a 2.7GHz CPU and a 10.7 teraflop GPU, which puts it well ahead of Xbox One X, for example. This is how, many assumed, Google would be able to deliver on its 4K 60fps promise, at least at console-quality visuals.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
In its technical review, Digital Foundry noted that Red Dead Redemption 2 renders at a 1440p resolution upscaled to 4K on Chromecast Ultra. At that resolution, the game runs at 30fps, meaning it’s already below what Google said we should expect.
While the outlet has yet to examine the visuals in greater detail, this is already inferior to the experience on Xbox One X, let alone PC.
Playing Red Dead Redemption 2 in a Chrome browser, which is capped to 1080p at launch, the game runs at 60fps. As Digital Foundry points out, this means that performance modes do exist, but may be locked to lower resolutions. Whether that’s intentional due to bandwidth, or a developer choice, remains to be seen.
Destiny 2 is another example of a missed opportunity. The game’s PC version is among the most optimised, so a system with Stadia’s hardware would easily beat Xbox One X’s visuals, resolution, and run at 60fps. Once again, this is not the case.
The Verge said the 4K stream on Chromecast Ultra is just an upscaled 1080p image, though it is running at 60fps. Bungie later confirmed to the site that Destiny 2 indeed renders at 1080p internally and upscales from there.
As for image quality, Bungie said the Stadia version uses the PC’s equivalent of medium settings.
Reviews praised the input delay and the quality of Google’s compression, so it’s not clear why games aren’t running at maximum fidelity – given the hardware.