Stadia - Google's vision for the future of gaming

If you were planning to play Stadia games on your computer or phone while using its official controller, you’ll have to get used to being tethered to your device with a USB-C cable. The Google Stadia controller’s wireless capability will only work on TV with a Chromecast Ultra at launch, the tech giant has revealed in a fine print on a Stadia video. A Google Community Manager handling the Stadia subreddit has confirmed the information and also clarified that you’ll need the official controller to play games through Chromecast Ultra.

I think the wording on that article is a bit off - that limitation is specific for Chromecast Ultra users since it has no bluetooth capability. You can use any compatible controller on the other devices, including PS4/Xbox controllers in wired/bluetooth mode.

Right, but the whole point of the Stadia wi-fi controller was that it was supposed to be able to seamlessly switch between devices. Having to connect it via a cable defeats that purpose.

Yeah - that’s a good point. Surprised the controller relies on Bluetooth at all to be honest, although I guess most devices will have both.

I guess they’ll either remove that dependency or make sure to add that in next hardware refresh for Chromecast

It’s super weird. They made a big deal about it being wi-fi, which meant it wasn’t tethered at all to the specific device you were using, it sent commands over wi-fi to the Google server which then sent the video to the device you were using. That meant that you could play on any device and the controller would work.

Now it sounds like it’s just a normal controller that communicates through the device you’re using, but worse since you can’t even use it wirelessly on your PC/laptop/phone/tablet.

I wonder if wi-fi just added too much latency to the experience so they’ve abandoned that.

That or it made the hardware too expensive.

My guess is it’s a battery life issue. They were using real wifi, not “wifi direct”.

The controller having bluetooth makes sense since I’d imagine they want the controller to work for general PC gaming and not just the Stadia platform.

Most likely scenario - they created a generic controller setup flow to cover both Stadia & Non-Stadia configurations and forgot that their own hardware didn’t have Bluetooth. Whoops.

Yeeeaaahhhh, I’m not sad I cancelled my Stadia pre-order. This is starting to sound very Google Home-like.

That’s a good guess too. You need a serious battery to handle wifi.

It was a key part of their original presentation, that the latency introduced from bluetooth connecting your controller to the game console and then out to the internet was a problem. I immediately fingered that to be bullshit, but it’s surprising if they completely back off.

Why on earth would they care about general PC gaming? They want people to be using Stadia.

The controller isn’t required for Stadia though - it’s just a nice to have. I’d imagine they want to position it as a high-end gaming controller that is optimized for Stadia so that its pricepoint ($69) is roughtly inline with other controllers (i.e. “you only pay $20 more than a standard controller for the best experience!” type of deal) .

Another possibility is that the wifi controller adds too many technical hurdles. Synchronizing packets when everything comes from one device (your computer or tablet) is one thing. Doing it with multiple devices from multiple sources is a more complicated story.

I’m confused. Why do people think the Wifi thing isn’t working, and it’s using Bluetooth?

The problem described in the articles is that the Wifi option only works for Chromecast Ultra. Since Bluetooth is not an option, for anything else you need to use a cable. Given that, it doesn’t sound like the problem with Wifi is anything really fundamental like power consumption or synchronization. Can’t imagine what it’d be though. Or how they’d discover it this late.

I don’t see why the chromecast would work any differently than a Stadia app on a FireTV or Roku. Either way it’s just streaming media from a Google datacenter somewhere.

You Roku remote isn’t contacting the data center by itself to change the channel, and also, latency is a minimal issue, unlike the Stadia.

A) With a Chromcast, it’s streaming video from a Google datacenter, and your wifi gamepad is connecting directly to the datacenter.

B) With a Roku, an app is streaming video from a Google datacenter, and your wifi gamepad is connecting directly to the datacenter.

Why would it work for A, but not B? They are functionally identical.

What’s the cheapest way to try this out come November? I can’t keep up with all these options but wouldn’t mind trying it out.

You need to buy their $129 “founders edition” bundle.