You might be excited over Google’s promise of PC gaming anywhere on any device, in which case you might be pretty excited for Stadia’s launch on November 19. Maybe you’ve even invested in a Founder’s Edition bundle to get the best TV gaming experience. If you were, however, hoping to experience Stadia from your Pixel phone or Pixel Chromebook, there is one caveat you might have to keep in mind: you will need a USB cable to use that Stadia Controller on those devices.
The Stadia Controller is basically just a gamepad with special Stadia-specific buttons and its own Wi-Fi connection. It can function wirelessly, which is the only way you’ll be able to connect to its Chromecast Ultra partner but can also use a USB cable connection. Google hasn’t been clear, however, on what goes where and with what but now that the details have been confirmed, it might not sit well with some Stadia fans.
First, the Chromecast Ultra and Stadia Controller go hand in hand. In fact, the only way you’ll be able to use Stadia with the Chromecast is with that Stadia Controller, no exception. The devil in the details, however, comes when connecting to anything other than the Chromecast Ultra.
If you’re using a Pixel phone or a Pixelbook to play Stadia, you will need to connect using a USB cable if you need to use the Stadia Controller. That makes the wireless option exclusive to the Chromecast, which is a rather strange arrangement. For one, Google doesn’t ship a USB-C to USB-C cable with the Stadia to make it immediately compatible with its Pixel device.
Even stranger is why the controller would even need a wired connection in the first place. Technically, the Stadia Controller uses Bluetooth to pair with a device like the Chromecast Ultra but then uses Wi-Fi to directly communicate with Stadia servers. Perhaps Google will change the system along the way but, as far as the early launch days go, Google Stadia is pretty much a Chromecast Ultra and Stadia Controller exclusive.