Stadia's 4K gaming claims come back to haunt it in class-action lawsuit

Google Stadia
(Image credit: Google)

A class-action lawsuit has been launched against Google Stadia for "unfair and deceptive trade practices" stemming from promises that the Stadia would run games at 4K, and would perform better than the Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro.

The 42-page suit targets Google, as well as Doom developer id Software and Destiny's Bungie, stating that all three companies have misled people in some capacity about Stadia's ability to run all games in 4K at 60fps. It was originally filed back in October 2020 but has just gained more attention after being transferred to federal court.

id Software was targeted regarding its initial claims of Doom Eternal being playable in true 4K on Stadia, which they later walked back to 1080p at 60fps, or upsampled to 2160p on 4K displays. The suit also named other Doom games available on Stadia and claims that id Software "wrongfully generated millions of dollars of revenue" as a result of the allegedly misleading claims.

Bungie was also called out for similar reasons, with the complaint stating that the studio "knew or should have known that Google was making misleading statements about the Stadia Pro subscription plan in that Destiny 2 would not be playable at the 4k 60FPS gameplay that the Stadia Pro service offered, and that consumers were being misled about Destiny 2."

The suit also cites various tweets made by Stadia and its Vice President, Phil Harrison, including one in which Harrison states that all launch games for the Stadia would run at 4K—spoiler alert, they didn't, with many games being upscaled instead.

The lawsuit is seeking to cover anybody in the US who purchased the Stadia Founders Edition, Stadia Premier Edition, and/or a Stadia Pro sub, which the plaintiff claims they and many others purchased "based on information and reports contained online that Stadia was more powerful than the leading gaming consoles and would display all games at 4K resolution."

The plaintiff is seeking a whole bunch of financial compensation, including damages, attorneys' fees, and "disgorging of all profits, benefits, and other compensation." The suit also demands more transparency from Google, requesting that Stadia publicly reveals the resolution and frame rate of every game sold on the platform.

It's hard to say if the lawsuit will end up going anywhere: the demands from the plaintiff are lengthy, and valid points are made about how Google initially marketed the Stadia, but whether this amounts to materially misleading consumers is now for the lawyers to argue. The platform hasn't been having a great time recently—they recently shut down their in-house development studio despite saying progress was going "great," and Terraria co-creator Andrew Spinks angrily pulled any plans for a Stadia port after troubles with Google disabling his account.

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.