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Google Stadia upscales games to 4K rather than rendering them natively at 4K as advertised

Image via Google (w/ edits)
Image via Google (w/ edits)
According to multiple outlets, some games on Google's Stadia streaming service are not rendered natively at 4K, like Google advertised them to be. Rather, some titles are rendered at lower resolutions and then upscaled to 4K once the data is sent to a gamer's Chromecast Ultra. This and a myriad of other complaints have left black marks on Stadia's first impression.

Critics and users alike have slammed Google Stadia. Issues like input lag and connectivity problems have been major sore spots for the service, but some intrepid diggers have uncovered a dark secret: Stadia does not render games in 4K as advertised.

9to5Google has compiled a few sources that have confirmed Google is not streaming true 4K gameplay through Stadia. The Verge received confirmation from the developers of Destiny 2 (Bungie) that the shooter renders at 1080p (FHD) on Google’s servers. This gameplay is then streamed to gamers’ Chromecast Ultra devices, which then upscale the video to 4K. Similarly, Red Dead Redemption 2 renders at 1440p, which is then upscaled to 4K on the receiving Chromecast Ultra. This finding was confirmed by Eurogamer.

One of Stadia’s main selling points was game streaming at 4K resolution at 60 fps. Considering the high-end hardware needed to push modern titles to that level of performance, Stadia looks like a cost-effective way to enjoy high-quality games. However, upscaling is very different than native rendering. Upscaling content rendered at lower resolutions leaves video artifacts and typically generates a softer image that looks smeared compared to crispier, natively rendered content. 

So far, Stadia looks more like an embarrassing misstep instead of the “future of gaming” it was sold as.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 11 > Google Stadia upscales games to 4K rather than rendering them natively at 4K as advertised
Sam Medley, 2019-11-20 (Update: 2019-11-21)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.