Google Stadia launched back in November with a wireless controller that could only connect wirelessly to a Chromecast Ultra. Playing on a PC or laptop required a USB connection. An update to the controllers rolled out this week, allowing them to connect wirelessly to any browser-based Stadia client.
The Stadia controller is an odd beast. Standard wireless controllers, including Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers, have no problem connecting to PC or mobile hardware. I’ve been using my Xbox One wireless controller to play Stadia games since launch without any problems. The Stadia controller is not a standard wireless controller. It could not connect wirelessly to my laptop, which is why it has been in a box since November.
This week’s Stadia controller update changes that. Now players can use their mobile Stadia app to update their controller’s firmware, allowing it to connect to their browser-based client using their wireless internet connection. Once updated, players can hold down the Stadia controller’s link button, enter an on-screen code, and play Stadia games wirelessly until their battery dies.
Note that they can only play Stadia games wirelessly. The controller connects directly to the app via wifi. It’s not a Bluetooth device. It won’t control games wirelessly outside of Stadia. Ultimately users are still better off just using a standard wireless PC controller, which works with anything. But hey, it is nice to have a wireless controller that works wirelessly, finally.