The controller updater available exclusively online will function through December 2024.
Although Stadia Controller is no longer in operation, the controllers for Google’s cloud-based gaming platform are still in circulation. The exclusive Stadia Controller, which was never going to be available again, was going to end up in landfills until Google came up with a strategy to turn them into Bluetooth devices that are compatible with nearly anything. The web service app, which was supposed to shut down in December 2023, is what allows the controller to be accessed by other devices. The Stadia Controller Salvage effort will continue for one additional year because it seems like it won’t be enough time to convert all of these controllers. The online tool will remain operational until December 31, 2024, according to the announcement, which was originally noticed by X (formerly Twitter) user Wario64.
Stadia is a cloud-based gaming service that streams gameplay in real time to users by running all of the game code on distant servers. Every button push made by the user on their local controller has to be sent over the Internet to the distant game server in order for it to be processed. The Stadia Controller linked to the Internet directly over Wi-Fi rather than first connecting over Bluetooth to your computer and then to the Internet in an effort to lower latency, as these services rely heavily on it. With the Chromecast dongle’s limited power, Google asserted that a reduction of one hop on the local network resulted in a decrease in latency.
The only option to utilize the Wi-Fi-only controller was via traditional USB because the service was no longer available. Google, however, devised a method to turn the abandoned Stadia Controllers from Wi-Fi connection to Bluetooth, enabling them to wirelessly connect to PCs and phones as a generic HID (Human Interface Device). Stadia Controllers, however, already arrived with a dormant Bluetooth chip. Usually, a firmware update software would be available for download, but since Google is Google, the Stadia Controller upgrade process takes place fully online. With Google’s sophisticated “WebUSB” API setup, updating the firmware of your controller only requires opening a Chrome browser, plugging in your controller, allowing the browser access to the device, and the webpage will update the firmware without requiring the installation of any additional software.
Even though the web-based updater is really cool, it also makes it hard for someone else to store the updater for later use. Controller updates stop as soon as Google’s website goes offline. A desktop application, however, may be preserved and re-distributed indefinitely.
There are undoubtedly a lot of controllers out there because the early reports on Stadia sales said that the service exceeded Google’s projections by “hundreds of thousands” of customers. Purchasing brand-new Stadia Controllers marked with the original 2019 manufacturing date was common even in 2022, creating the appearance that these devices were only stocking shelves. There is more time for sales to occur and for these controllers to find a suitable home because the update plan is still in effect for an additional year.
“One of the highlights of the Stadia launch package,” according to Ars’ Senior Gaming Editor Kyle Orland, is the controller, which “boasts a solid, well-balanced weight; comfortable, clicky face buttons and analog sticks; quality ergonomic design on the D-pad and shoulder triggers; and strong, distinct rumble motors.” Therefore, it seems like a good purchase if you can obtain the $70 MSRP item at a substantial discount. The Bluetooth update has one drawback: it disables audio functions like the microphone and headphone port.