Despite expectations, you’ll most likely be plugging in your Google Stadia controller when the system launches Nov. 19. The cloud gaming service originally boasted that it would would be wireless no matter where you took it. It’s a bit of a different story now.
Google first shows off the controller in March and 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. However, Google recently added a disclaimer in their latest Stadia explanation video that wireless play will only be available on Chromecast Ultra at launch.
A Google community manager on Reddit later confirmed that you’ll need to use USB-C cables for other devices when you want to use Stadia Google is focusing on getting wireless play right on TV first, because it wants that big screen experience to be as good as possible. 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. If they can get the base experience right, and work on the wireless experience later on other devices in the near future, the service can still be just as great as originally intended.
It makes sense doing it this way, as 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 in the first place. The way we play won’t change drastically yet, but could be much more enhancing in the future with Stadia.
For the time being, it seems you’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. Stadia is only launching for buyers of its $130 Founder’s Edition package this on November 19 while it’ll be more broadly available in 2020.