Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge
You’ll probably be plugging in Google’s wireless Stadia controller when the cloud gaming service launches on November 19th. While it’ll work wirelessly while playing Stadia on a Chromecast Ultra, you’ll have to plug in a USB-C cable to use it with computers or phones at launch, Google tells The Verge.
When Google first showed off the controller in March, the company touted how you could seamlessly switch from gaming on your TV to a laptop or phone while using the same exact controller, without having to pair it to each device — because the controller would stay directly connected to Stadia’s servers over its own Wi-Fi.
But as 9to5Google spotted earlier today, Google recently added a disclaimer in a new Stadia explainer video that wireless play will only be available on Chromecast Ultra at launch, and a Google community manager on Reddit later confirmed that meant you’ll need to break out the USB-C cables for other devices — perhaps because Bluetooth also won’t be an option by launch.
Google tells us it’s focusing on getting wireless play right on TV first, because it wants that big screen experience to be as good as possible. That makes sense to me — if Google wants to compete in gaming, it needs to make playing Stadia games on a TV as easy as kicking back on the couch with a PlayStation or Xbox controller.
And purely from a logistical viewpoint, Google is probably banking on the fact that it’s already much more common to plug things into our laptops, desktops, or phones, since they are usually just a few feet away from us anyway.
But right now, it seems we’ll have to wait to fulfill the ultimate dream of playing triple-A console-quality games on a phone with a wireless controller and seamlessly swapping them back and forth to a TV. To be fair, Stadia is only launching for buyers of its $130 Founder’s Edition package this November; it’ll be more broadly available in 2020.