The first-party controller for Google's upcoming Stadia game streaming service isn't like other wireless controllers for PCs and consoles. Instead of connecting via Bluetooth, it matches up directly with Google's Stadia servers over Wi-Fi and sends the signal back to whichever device the game content is being streamed from. Details included in an official informational video has confirmed that the Stadia Controller's wireless capabilities are reserved only for the Chromecast Ultra, at least at first.
Around the 1:23 timestamp, a bit of fine print pops up across the bottom of the screen that states, "At launch, wireless play with the Stadia Controller is only available on TV using a Chromecast Ultra." In other words, the official Stadia Controller will not work wirelessly with phones, PCs, Chromebooks, or tablets when the service goes live in November.
A support page published earlier this year doesn't make it clear if wired connections will always be a requirement for non-Chromecasts:
The Stadia Controller uses BLE for setup and then connects via Wi-Fi for gameplay. You can also connect your Stadia Controller to your phone, tablet, or computer with a USB cable plugged into the Stadia Controller's USB-C port.
That means when it comes to playing Stadia on any device that isn't a Chromecast Ultra, your initial options will be as follows:
- Connect the Stadia Controller via a USB cable
- Pair up with a Bluetooth wireless controller, like those used with the Xbox One or Playstation 4
- Attach a wired HID-compliant controller or mouse and keyboard
Players who ordered the Stadia Founder’s Edition or Premiere Edition should begin to receive their hardware on November 19th. The Stadia gaming service goes live on the same day at 9AM PST/5PM BST/6PM CET. According to Google, Stadia will run on Pixel Slate, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Acer Chromebook Tab 10, and HP Chromebook X2, with more devices expected to follow. With any bit of luck, broader wireless support for the Stadia Controller will also be on Google's future roadmap.