Google Stadia’s Controller Upgrade and New Game Mark Shutdown

Google Stadia’s Controller Upgrade: A rollout of Google Stadia is planned for this next week. Although there will be many disappointed developers and hours of unplayed games after Stadia’s shutdown on January 18, the process has been as painless as it could be. In the wake of the service’s cancellation, Google refunded all game purchases and is now heeding pleas to make the Stadia controller compatible with other Bluetooth devices.

A community manager for Stadia said on Friday in the Official Forums: “An automated service to activate Bluetooth on your Stadia Controller will be available next week. Next week, we’ll provide information on how to activate this function.”

After Stadia’s demise, one of the last things people wanted was for the controller to have a second life. The Stadia controller is unlike any other gaming peripheral because it connects wirelessly to the internet without going through the player’s primary device. So the story goes, this was supposed to reduce the natural lag time of streaming video games by a few milliseconds.

After Stadia’s servers were decommissioned, the Wi-Fi game controller would have been rendered obsolete and discarded as electronic waste. It could have functioned as a generic controller if you connected it to a computer via USB, but these days nobody wants to use a wired controller.

Despite the fact that “no Bluetooth Classic capability is enabled at this time,” Google’s product listing has always been transparent about the controller’s Bluetooth chip. The hardware to prevent the controller from being thrown away already exists, and Google has promised a firmware update to make it happen.

A highlight of the Stadia launch package, according to Ars’ Senior Gaming Editor Kyle Orland, who praised its “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” in our review of the system.

All Stadia controllers feature a “Manufactured on” sticker on the back, and all known versions were produced in 2019 during the initial manufacturing run, indicating that sales were significantly lower than expected and that the controllers have been sitting in warehouses for years. We will be on the lookout for a fire sale, as the controllers were removed from shelves after the closing announcement.

Google Stadia's Controller Upgrade
Google Stadia’s Controller Upgrade

Google has unveiled not only a new version of the controller but also… a new game! Yes, a new game for Stadia was released on Friday, only four days before it shut down. It’s known as Worm Game, and it served as a prototype for Stadia. It’s available for instant, no-cost play. An explanation of the game from Google:

Play the game that came to Stadia before Stadia came to the world. Worm Game is a humble title we used to test many of Stadia’s features, starting well before our 2019 public launch, right through 2022. It won’t win Game of the Year, but the Stadia team spent a LOT of time playing it, and we thought we’d share it with you. Thanks for playing, and for everything.

If you’re familiar with Snake, you’ll recognize a lot of familiar elements in Worm Game. You play as a snake with four directions of movement, gaining size after consuming an apple, and avoiding obstacles as you try to reach the end of the level. Actually, Worm Game is a fantastic reminder of all the ways in which Stadia fell short as a service.

After trying the game, I was informed that my 600 mb/s connection was “not stable.” Even worse, the entire game seemed hazy, like a low-quality video on YouTube. Because of the inherent lag in game streaming, a fast-response game like Snake feels terrible to play, and you waste a lot of time attempting to time your button presses for tight turns.

The size of this basic 2D game is likely only a few megabytes, making it possible for any device to install it in under a minute or run it directly in a browser without any installation at all. Instead, it will take a lot of bandwidth to stream it online. When comparing the Worm Game on Stadia to the one in Google Search, it’s clear that the “native” search version is significantly more polished.

Other minor Stadia details include the fact that, depending on the game, you may be able to export your saved games and take them with you to another platform. The list of games that allow data export is available on 9to5Google. Former Microsoft and Sony employee Phil Harrison, now Google’s “VP of Stadia,” is still formally employed by the company. You have to wonder about his future at Google unless the corporation has another gaming project he could work on. That news might come as soon as Wednesday.

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Frequently asked questions

What happened to the Google gaming console?

The service kept providing gaming options by forming alliances with other businesses to rebrand and resell the technology as a means of delivering games in the cloud under their own brand names. In September 2022, Google declared that it would be ending Stadia in January 2023.

Is the Stadia controller Bluetooth?

Take note that at this time, wired controllers are not officially supported when playing Stadia on an iOS device. You can’t use a wired controller, but you can follow the wireless setup instructions for the Stadia Controller or pair a Bluetooth controller if your device supports them.