Armenius

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All the various discussion around, I'd figure we'd start a dedicated thread since we are nearing release.

Of note today, Digital Foundry has released a review of the Founders Edition and put the service through its paces. One very revealing point is that the premium "4K" streaming service may render games at a lower resolution to maintain performance and is simply upscaling the image to 4K on your output device. The article includes comparison shots between the Xbox One X and Stadia versions of the games tested.

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2019-stadia-tech-review

The cost of this performance level is pretty straightforward based on the comparison images above - resolution. Our time with Bungie's game on Stadia - played on the same connection during the same session as Shadow of the Tomb Raider - resulted in a 1080p experience scaled up for 4K output over the Chromecast Ultra. HDR is supported, the high frame-rate is very welcome and the experience is exceptionally good fun, but it's not quite what we expected from a system with this much graphics power - especially when you consider that the PC version of the game is one of the most well-tuned, well-executed ports of the generation.

The comparison images also hint at some reductions in the game's visual features too, which we'll be looking at more closely in due course, but fundamentally, the idea that Bungie chose to lock at 1080p resolution on a high-profile title like this raises questions. It's early days for Stadia development, of course, and we've no real notion yet of the challenges facing game-makers - but it's not really something we expected from a cutting-edge hardware configuration.

Our final game focus is the big one - Red Dead Redemption 2. Stadia is based on a Linux OS running the Vulkan graphics API, and we know from our recent PC testing that Rockstar supports both this and DirectX 12 with the latest iteration of the Rage engine. We also know that invoking the PC game's higher-end features comes at a cost, so the developer's choices here in how to use Stadia's power should be intriguing.

Again, the obvious takeaway from Stadia is that despite a 4K output from Chromecast Ultra, the game itself is rendering at a lower resolution. It took a bit of effort to figure out what's going on, but the evidence points to Red Dead Redemption 2 operating with an internal pixel-count of 1440p. Again, we'll be looking at the specific visual feature set of the Stadia port in future, but first impressions suggest a good level of similarity in terms of specific settings with the Xbox One X version. Meanwhile, the Stadia port of RDR2 also seems to be running at the same 30 frames per second frame-rate as well. It's Red Dead Redemption 2 in its entirety, it plays well, and even with the existing, very large latency built into the game, there are no issues whatsoever in progressing through the game via the streaming platform.

DF also took a look at and measured latency while comparing it to the Xbox One X. Note that they eliminated the input lag of their display from these numbers.

upload_2019-11-18_16-34-22.png


Probably the most useful comparison here is Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which offers up a 30fps high resolution mode, and a 60fps performance alternative - on both Stadia and Xbox One X. Results here indicate a delta of 50-56ms between the local and cloud-powered experience, but what's really surprising here is the variance between 30fps and 60fps modes on both systems. Destiny 2 is perfectly playable on Stadia and delivers the 60fps experience that Xbox One X cannot, but even so, it feels considerably snappier on console - and this is borne out by the latency numbers. The best result for Stadia is a mere 44ms differential between Mortal Kombat 11 running on Xbox One X and Stadia.

Ultimately, the question is how the game feels in the hand. Nothing I played could be considered 'unplayable' or very laggy - with the possible exception of Tomb Raider in quality mode, but I even got used to that after a while. Remember that different actions may have different latencies, so the table above is far from definitive. At best, it's a test of the one particular motion carried out in the same scenarios on each system. More tests on more titles may put Stadia into better focus, but 45-55ms of lag generally is perfectly acceptable for many experiences and even a fast-paced FPS like Destiny 2 plays out fine on the pad. Obviously though, if you're gaming on a living room display via Chromecast, do make sure game mode is enabled and definitely ensure that you're using a LAN connection.

DF promises a more in-depth look after the service officially goes live for the masses tomorrow, November 19.
 

Armenius

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Ars has a review up, and the title and byline is not flattering:

Google Stadia launch review: Gaming's "future" looks rough in the present
Google's game streaming is too limited and too unreliable, for too little benefit.

Kyle goes on to describe how the service deteriorates on a Wifi connection in population-dense Washington D.C.:

But getting a good gaming experience with Stadia depends on more than bandwidth. In a week's worth of testing, the Stadia stream quality seemed to vary wildly based on the mysterious vagaries of our home networking.

When running on a wired Ethernet connection, Stadia just about performed as advertised. That means smooth frame rates that generally held at 60fps and controls that felt largely indistinguishable from those on local hardware (even with the Stadia controller connected directly to the router via Wi-Fi). While there was likely some additional input lag over local play, in Ethernet tests it wasn't enough to be noticeable to the naked eye, even for twitchy shooters and fighting games. Playing with friends online was similarly smooth, with no significant lag over a wired connection (though we weren't able to test out online voice communications during the pre-release review period).

The stability of wired Stadia play was in stark contrast to the Wi-Fi Stadia experience, which was inconsistent to the point of aggravation. This became apparent in our very first tests, playing Mortal Kombat 11 on a Chromecast Ultra stationed on a TV one floor above the router.

The first few single-player matches played beautifully, with crisp, smooth graphics and controls that made quick special moves easy to pull off. Then the Chromecast suddenly warned me that my connection had become "unreliable" and that "gameplay may stop" if it didn't improve. The sudden message was all the more vexing because I was alone in the house, with no other devices actively running on the network.

At that point, I faced a noticeable drop in resolution and frequent frame-rate stutters that made the game nearly unplayable. As promised, gameplay was forced to stop a couple of times as Stadia kicked me back to the main menu (while I was able to reconnect relatively quickly and without losing my spot in the game, but it was still a major annoyance).

The Wi-Fi inconsistencies continued for the rest of the week. One day, the Wi-Fi connection would be so bad that I could barely get a Stadia stream to run for a minute on a Chromebook sitting mere feet from my router. The next day, that same Chromebook would provide an excellent Stadia stream in my downstairs kitchen even with a Netflix stream running on a nearby iPad. These were in locations in the house where I usually get a reliable Wi-Fi connection and where I didn't run into similar problems when testing Microsoft's xCloud beta on a Pixel phone last month (though xCloud resolution did bounce up and down a lot depending on the connection quality).

Going further than Digital Foundry, Kyle describes the differing experience if you stream games through a Chrome browser instead of the Chromecast.

Of the three versions of Stadia, the Chrome browser version feels the least robust. For one, it's currently limited to a 1080p image. That might not be too noticeable on an average living room TV or on a tiny mobile phone screen. But it ends up being a real limitation when you're sitting only a foot away from a big PC monitor (or even a moderately sized laptop monitor).

More than that, the Chrome browser stream is noticeably less sharp than the same games running locally, even at the same resolution. The Stadia version looks like someone smeared a thin film of vaseline on the camera lens before sending the image to the monitor, as you can see in the above album of screens comparing Steam and Stadia versions of Destiny 2 (the local version was captured at maximum settings and 1080p resolution). Google says higher-resolution streaming will be available via Chrome "as soon as early 2020," but for now, the browser provides a passable but disappointing Stadia experience.

That's a shame, because the Chromecast Ultra version of Stadia shows that the service has the potential to do more. The 4K images you get from a fully functional Stadia stream on your TV are hard to distinguish from those coming from a local PS4 Pro (assuming your Internet cooperates, as discussed above). Those images come with a bandwidth cost of up to 20GB/hour, though, so be wary if your Internet provider has a data cap.

Kyle sums it up thusly:

In exchange for those marginal or unproven benefits, a Stadia customer faces some inherent risk by paying full price for games on a service that Google could shut down at any point. Unlike discs and (DRM-free) downloads, games you buy on Stadia could be completely inaccessible in the near future if Stadia goes the way of so many other abandoned Google products. Despite Google's assurances that it's in it for the long haul with Stadia, reasonable concerns still persist both among game makers and gamers themselves.

If Google wants to lean into Stadia's advantages and mitigate the risks, it would be better served positioning the service less as a full-on console competitor and more as a low-friction, screen-agnostic clearinghouse for sampling games. Spend a few minutes engaging with a streamed video ad, for instance, and you could earn an hour trying out any game in the Stadia catalog, immediately, on any device with a screen. Or, users could pay a bit more a month for an ad-free experience that offers instant access to all Stadia games for as long as Google is willing to continue accepting subscription fees.

That kind of seamless, YouTube-style instant access to a vast array of content could be worth all the headaches associated with Stadia, especially if the library of available games continues to grow. For now, though, investing in Stadia instead of a console seems like a bunch of hassle for very minimal benefit. Stadia could eventually grow into the future of gaming, but in the present, it's just not worth it.

Will Stadia be able to sustain growth if this is what people are exposed to for first impressions? Will Google quickly axe this experiment as they have so many others?
 
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Blade-Runner

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Finally, a thread to post Jim Sterling's latest rants!






Oh goodie, now all the live service apologists can make excuses for this turd of a product with the usual pathetic excuse that it just needs more time.
 

socK

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I was in the beta and latency wasn't utterly horrific but definitely not something you would ever be able to tolerate in an FPS.

Quality was such utter shit in certain scenes I just flat out bought the game after like a couple hours because it was absolutely intolerable in certain scenes. Like any time you went into a forest area in Assassin's Creed it just looked like a completely smeary fucking mess.
 

odditory

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Honestly no it doesn't. No one asked for this and it is all about taking control from the customer. From what I see atm the quality is garbage even using the 4k option and that is not even accounting for all th lag.
I was goofing around on account of the post above mine.

But really, if no one asked for it then no need to lose your mud over it - these things have a way of working themselves out; water seeks it's own level.

Instead, what I suspect is really behind all the nervous Stadia shitposting isn't about it failing, but people instead believing it could succeed (eventually) because Google has the resources.

When I come across tech stuff that I think has no shot or think "lame, doesn't interest me" -- Apple products for example, I don't give it a second thought. You certainly wouldn't see me all over threads about the product, sweating bullets about how big a fail it is and how no one asked for it or should buy it. WGAF?
 
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Derangel

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I was goofing around on account of the post above mine.

But really, if no one asked for it then no need to lose your mud over it - these things have a way of working themselves out; water seeks it's own level.

Instead, what I suspect is really behind all the nervous Stadia shitposting isn't about it failing, but people instead believing it could succeed (eventually) because Google has the resources.

When I come across tech stuff that I think has no shot or think "lame, doesn't interest me" -- Apple products for example, I don't give it a second thought. You certainly wouldn't see me all over threads about the product, sweating bullets about how big a fail it is and how no one asked for it or should buy it. WGAF?

No, we just know what Google is like and don't want to deal with subpar garbage. Gefore Now and xCloud are already much better services and they're still in beta. Nvidia and MS aren't rushing to market with a half-baked service filled with empty promises that seems to barely work.

Also, pre-order numbers are apparently "disappointing" so I'm not entirely sure anyone has to "worry" about it succeeding.
 

vegeta535

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I was goofing around on account of the post above mine.

But really, if no one asked for it then no need to lose your mud over it - these things have a way of working themselves out; water seeks it's own level.

Instead, what I suspect is really behind all the nervous Stadia shitposting isn't about it failing, but people instead believing it could succeed (eventually) because Google has the resources.

When I come across tech stuff that I think has no shot or think "lame, doesn't interest me" -- Apple products for example, I don't give it a second thought. You certainly wouldn't see me all over threads about the product, sweating bullets about how big a fail it is and how no one asked for it or should buy it. WGAF?
While I zero interest in services like this I still have a vested interest in it. What if in 10 years it will be the only way to play games? A lot of companies are going balls deep with all this cloud none sense. The end game here is too remove actual hardware in people's home and into the cloud. All people will have is dumb terminals at home to access everything on the cloud while paying a monthly fee for everything. A world where corporation have complete control over everything we consume.

/Takes off tinfoil hat
 

Blade-Runner

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While I zero interest in services like this I still have a vested interest in it. What if in 10 years it will be the only way to play games? A lot of companies are going balls deep with all this cloud none sense. The end game here is too remove actual hardware in people's home and into the cloud. All people will have is dumb terminals at home to access everything on the cloud while paying a monthly fee for everything. A world where corporation have complete control over everything we consume.

/Takes off tinfoil hat

A publisher's wet deam....the ultimate unbreakable DRM.
 

StryderxX

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So what exactly is the allure with Stadia? If I understand correctly Google is basically selling a console here since you still have to buy all the games at full price to use ONLY with Stadia. There's no cross platform gaming. On top of having the limited user base you also have to deal with increased input latency. Who is the audience for this? Hardcore gamers are going to play these games on console or PC and casuals are probably not interested in buying triple A gaming titles to stream on a Chromecast. I honestly have no idea why this thing exists.
 

Derangel

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So what exactly is the allure with Stadia? If I understand correctly Google is basically selling a console here since you still have to buy all the games at full price to use ONLY with Stadia. There's no cross platform gaming. On top of having the limited user base you also have to deal with increased input latency. Who is the audience for this? Hardcore gamers are going to play these games on console or PC and casuals are probably not interested in buying triple A gaming titles to stream on a Chromecast. I honestly have no idea why this thing exists.

I don't think Google even knows what the audience for Stadia is. The game selection says its aimed at the core gamer audience, but they seem to be pitching more towards a casual audience. However, I don't see a casual audience buying a $130 bundle and a Pixel phone (which, for now, is required to activate Stadia). Even when Google gets around to removing both requirements (sometime next year) it will be too late as everyone will think you need both things. So there goes the casual market. The core market already gets a better experience with systems they'll already have and good luck convincing them to rebuy games and give up their friends lists.

To me, Stadia feels a lot like Google Glass or any number of other failed pet projects Google has had over the years. A neat idea conceptually, but Google has nfc what it is doing or how to market anything. Even the Pixel phone is going down that route these days.
 

Armenius

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Do we have any confirmation that the app only works on the Pixel? I notice Burke didn't mention the model of his phone. My guess is that both of the non-Pixel phones were really old models and they didn't do their due diligence on this point. People are saying that the app worked just fine on their Galaxy S10. It's still ridiculous that you can't just register your code through any browser.
 

Youn

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Pixel, chromecast, and chromebooks at first... then maybe chrome browser and other apps/devices in the future if things go well
 

Armenius

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Reports of the Chromecast Ultra, which is required for "4K" and HDR until an undetermined time, is being reported that it overheats quickly and shuts off after getting too hot. Owners have reported this happens while simply streaming Netflix, so I wonder why this hasn't come out before. Apparently it's happening to people after 2-4 hours of playing games.


Apparently it has been talked about for the past year, at least, as people have rigged up their own cooling solutions.

 

Derangel

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Was just going to post a link to that with my thoughts. You beat me to the punch. I'll just add my thoughts below.

While Rich is his usual chill self, the video evidence presented is incredibly damning.

At around 21:38 in the video he shows RDR2 running on a 30mbps fibre connection that is in use by someone else while streaming and hooooly shit the image quality shifts are bad. Like Youtube 480p (if I'm being extremely generous) bad. And it shifts so much that it starts to hurt my eyes just watching it.
 

Armenius

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I wanted to see the deal with the Stadia app, myself. The app downloaded, installed, and ran fine on my Razer Phone 2 with Android 9 (Pie) installed..
 

Derangel

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I wanted to see the deal with the Stadia app, myself. The app downloaded, installed, and ran fine on my Razer Phone 2 with Android 9 (Pie) installed..

That is good to hear. At least it really isn’t just limited to Pixel devices. The devices it does support is still weird though, unless they’ve updated it recently to support more.
 

Derangel

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I don't think Google has mastered faster-than-light technologies just yet.

There probably are optimizations Google can do on their end, but the biggest hurdle isn’t going to be breaking the speed of lights it’s dealing with shaky connections from other ISPs.
 

DrDoU

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what DOES this service come with other than a visa or mastercard requirement.will they add diners club as a feature and a stamp that says sucker for your forehead,Brother what junk
 

Colonel Sanders

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Then there's playing locally on PC with a good display and proper config, where (although some games just have trash latency no matter what) you can get that down to literally like 10ms.
 

J3RK

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This right here should damn it to the garbage heap but it won't because Joe Sixpack Gamer doesn't know what input latency is.

I agree completely. However, it's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. :D Still trash, but I guess 1% less trashy than anticipated. :p
 
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