Back in October, Stadia Chief Phil Harrison issued a tweet making the claim that “all games at launch [will] support 4k” resolution, with an “appropriate tv and bandwidth.” This claim has since proven false, and whether it’s a lie, a misdirection, or a misunderstanding between Google and game developers, it has left many fans with a sour taste in their mouth.
Yes, all games at launch support 4K. 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.
— Phil Harrison (@MrPhilHarrison) October 9, 2019
Last week, The Verge reported that the Stadia version of Destiny 2 renders at a native 1080p, and is upscaled to improve quality, but never reaches 4k resolution, in direct contradiction of Harrison’s tweeted claim that “all games” would be able to do. In addition, as reported by Eurogamer’s tech arm, Digital Foundry, Red Dead Redemption 2, ostensibly the Stadia’s most prestigious port, renders at 1080p or 1440p, depending on data rate—and then upscales to 4k on Chromecast Ultra—meaning Stadia’s 4k mode actually processes fewer pixels than PS4 Pro.
Along with The Verge and Eurogamer’s reports, website 9to5Google published a piece accusing Google of lying, and of exaggerating the quality of Stadia’s games. Yesterday, Google released a statement to the website, which reads in part: “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.”
If one reads between the lines in the above statement, it can either be seen as a bunch of words that mean nothing at all and accepts no culpability whatsoever, or one which puts the onus for the lack of 4k streaming on game developers rather than Google—despite the fact it was the latter who made the claim that “all games” would run at 4k through Stadia at the service’s launch.
Stadia’s short life has so far been a rocky one, and interested readers should check back later in the week when Gaming Instincts’ Tristan Reyes will discuss the streaming service, questioning the reason for its existence in the first place.
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