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