Google has been preparing Stadia support for Android TV for a while now, and it remains one of the only Google platforms where the game streaming service isn't officially available yet. It's already been possible to sideload Stadia to Android TV devices in the past, but initial scaling issues and a Bluetooth mouse requirement for setup made it more than tedious to get started. The last few Stadia updates have solved a lot of these problems except for the sideloading requirement, making the game streaming service seem almost ready for prime time. However, Google has confirmed on Twitter that Stadia won't make it to the new Chromecast with Google TV until the first half of 2021.

With all the progress the service has made on Android TV over the last few months, that's definitely a bummer, and makes me fear that Google isn't taking its gaming platform as serious as it should. The problem is amplified by the fact that Google has stopped selling the Chromecast Ultra with the launch of the new Chromecast, which it pitched as the perfect device to play Stadia on and even bundled it with a controller as part of the Stadia Premiere and Founder's Editions (though the Ultra remains available as part of the Stadia bundles for now, for what it's worth).

It's also unclear if Stadia will initially only support the new Chromecast with Google TV or if it'll be available on all Android TV devices from the get go.

The Stadia experience on Android TV is actually pretty solid already, even if there's still some more significant input lag involved. When we installed the latest Stadia version on an Nvidia Shield TV unit, we were able to set it up with a controller (no mouse needed), which been the biggest hurdle in older versions. Once logged in, Stadia remains fully functional and even comes in HDR and 4K on the Shield, a change recently introduced. When you take a peek at the settings, you'll see that the Shield TV is listed as an experimentally supported device, which "may affect game performance." In fact, navigating the menu still feels laggy and images are slow to load, so Google probably has to work on some more optimization before it's 100% smooth sailing.

This series of updates makes it likely that Google is planning to bring Stadia to its widely leaked "Sabrina" Android TV stick once it launches for real. The Play Store might whitelist Stadia for the company's own hardware and the Shield TV only in the beginning for some additional wide-scale testing, but once a few weeks and months have passed, there's little to nothing that stands in the way of Stadia becoming available on all Android TV devices.

Hopefully, Stadia will soon be available officially for everyone on Android TV hardware, but if you're interested in giving it a try in the meantime, it's still simple enough to sideload it. We have a handy guide showing you how it's done, and we've got the latest, fully functional APK over at APK Mirror.

Stadia
Stadia
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Updated to clarify that the described changes didn't come with the latest Stadia version — they've been part of multiple recent app releases.

Updated with Google statement on Stadia availability.