The Google Stadia controller will only work wirelessly with a Chromecast Ultra and a TV when the game service is released. For use on other devices, such as certain tablets, Pixel smartphones and PCs, the controller can only be used via the USB connection.
Google recently announced that Stadia will be available on November 19. In addition, it published a video stating in small print that wireless play with the Stadia controller is only available on a TV using a connected Chromecast Ultra at the time of release.
Grace Yang, community manager at Stadia, has since clarified this disclaimer notice. She reports on Reddit that a Stadia controller is required to play games via a Chromecast Ultra connected to the TV. Wireless play is also limited to the Chromecast Ultra. If Stadia is used on desktops, laptops, smartphones or tablets, the controller must be connected with a USB-C cable; the controller then acts as a standard usb hid controller and may also work, although that depends on the particular game and set-up.
Google explained this in more detail in a statement to The Verge. The company says it wants to make wireless play work well with TVs first, because it places importance on the best possible experience on large screens. Wireless play with the Stadia Controller will probably also be available for other devices in the future, but when is unknown.
From the release, Stadia users can also use a laptop or desktop with a recent version of the Chrome browser in addition to a Chromecast Ultra and a television. In addition, owners of the Pixel 2, 3 and 4 phones can access Stadia, as well as owners of at least the following Chrome OS tablets: Pixel Slate, Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and HP Chromebook X2. In time, more smartphones and tablets will probably be added to this list of supported devices.
The Stadia controller is not necessary to use Google’s upcoming game streaming service. Users can use mouse and keyboard on their computers, and there is also support for the PlayStation DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers. Google’s own Stadia controller does not use a Bluetooth but a WiFi connection and is therefore not connected to a device, but to a game session. In theory, this makes it possible to switch seamlessly from, for example, a computer to a smartphone when playing a game, where the controller works immediately during the session on the smartphone. It will take a while before this is actually possible, because from November 19 the Stadia controller can only be used wirelessly when playing on a TV.