Google's Stadia Controller isn't fully wireless at launch

Stadia promotional image
Stadia promotional image (Image credit: Google)

What you need to know

  • The Stadia Controller initially turned heads for its ease of access in switching between devices.
  • Google has now clarified that, at launch, only the Chromecast Ultra is supported for wireless play with the controller.
  • It may work with other devices and platforms, but only using a wired connection.

In our hands-on with the Stadia Controller at Google I/O, we noticed that the controller was connected to the demo laptop via a cable. Turns out, that wasn't just a precaution to ensure the demo ran as smoothly as possible. At launch, the Stadia controller will not have wireless connectivity enabled for any devices except the Chromecast Ultra.

That's a significant departure from the seamless wireless vision Google made us buy into when it first introduced Stadia to the world. One of the controller's biggest draws was its ability, thanks to the in-built Wi-Fi, to connect directly to Google's servers. This meant that regardless of which devices you play on, you could simply switch between them without even having to worry about pairing the controller to the device.

However, as confirmed by a Google employee on Reddit, your laptop or phone will require a wired connection to the controller for it to function. That's quite a disappointment since you also won't be able to use your Bluetooth headphones with the controller at launch.

The company told The Verge that it's working on first improving the wireless experience on TV before it turns to other devices and platforms. Still, with much of what makes the controller unique and enticing disabled at launch, it's hard to recommend buying the $69 piece of kit unless you are really into trying out everything Google. Maybe that works out just as well, since Stadia will initially only be available to enthusiasts who chipped in for the Founder's Edition, with wider availability rolling out at some point next year. Hopefully, Google will have sorted out its wireless woes by then.

Hands on with Google's Stadia Controller: It's good. Really good.

Muhammad Jarir Kanji