Best answer: Google Stadia gives players the freedom to play on a Pixel phone, through a Chrome browser on PC or Mac, or on any TV with a Chromecast Ultra. Currently, Google’s Stadia controller is your only option for playing Stadia games on your TV. For Stadia gaming on a Pixel or PC, you’re better off using an Xbox One controller or any Bluetooth controller you may already own and love.
- A versatile controller: Xbox One controller ($39 at Amazon)
- Designed just for Stadia: Google Stadia Premiere Edition ($129 at Google)
What’s "best" really depends on how you want to play
I wish I could just say that the best and easiest controller to use with Google Stadia is Google’s own Stadia controller. That would make everybody’s life easier. We’re talking about a controller with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity that promises to deliver the lowest input latency and was specifically designed for Google’s unique cloud-based game streaming service.
It could have (and should have) been a slam dunk, but Google bungled the Stadia launch and shipped its controller without full wireless support across all the ways you can play. Instead, the Stadia controller bundle is only worth buying today if you’re keen on playing Stadia titles in 4K on your living room TV.
The Stadia Premiere Edition bundle is your only option for playing Stadia on a TV. The bundle includes the Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra with pre-installed firmware specific to Stadia gaming. We can expect Google to roll out a firmware update for other Chromecast devices to add support for Stadia, but for now, the one bundled with the controller is the only one that works at launch.
I know, it’s weird.
Waiting on Google
You’d think the Stadia controller, being a wireless controller and all, would work wirelessly with Pixel phones and computers, too. Nope! At least, not yet.
To play Stadia games on your phone or via Google Chrome, you’ll need a wired USB connection between the controller and the device. You can use the USB-A to USB-C charging cable included in the box to connect the controller for PC gaming, but you’ll need to supply your own USB-C to USB-C cable for connecting the controller to a Pixel Phone — an odd and frustrating oversight on Google’s part.
The Stadia controller should — and eventually will be — the best controller for Google’s gaming service, but only after future software updates unleash its full potential.
Of course, you do have other options beyond Google’s Stadia controller to enjoy Stadia on a Pixel or PC. Given the Stadia controller’s current lack of wireless support for phones and Chrome, you wouldn’t be blamed for looking at alternate control setups for games or situations where it just makes more sense.
For example, playing through a Chrome browser on a computer naturally allows you to use your keyboard and mouse, which might be preferable for playing first-person shooters such as Destiny 2. Keyboard and mouse controls are only currently available via Chrome, but Google’s support page seems to hint that support for wireless keyboard/mouse setups might eventually come for TVs and phones in the future. Only wired controllers connected via USB are currently supported for gaming on Chrome with support for wirelessly connected controllers coming soon.
For wireless, you can play Stadia games wirelessly on Pixel phones with practically any Bluetooth controller that works with Android, including Sony’s DualShock 3 or 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One controller, and even a Nintendo Switch Pro controller. So you’re all set if you already own one of those consoles as you can play Stadia wirelessly on a Pixel phone or through Chrome with a USB connection.
It’s for that reason that I have to give the nod to the Xbox One controller as the best option for enjoying Stadia in its current state. It’s a well-designed controller that’s way cheaper to buy than the Stadia controller and actually works over a wireless connection with your phone.
The full value of Google’s controller will come in time
There are still some unique benefits that you’ll only get gaming with the Google Stadia controller. Support for Google Assistant was recently added, adding functionality to the Assistant button featured prominently on the controller. There’s also a dedicated capture button that’s convenient for capturing screenshots or video clips to share with friends or on your social media.
In time, once Google has rolled out all the features and functionality that they promised, the Stadia controller should set itself apart as the best option for the very gaming platform it was designed for. Adding seamless wireless functionality across all platforms should be Google’s primary focus for the moment because as it stands now the Stadia controller is only best for gaming on your TV — and that’s because it’s currently your only option.
For wireless gaming on your phone, we recommend using an Xbox One controller. They’re not expensive to buy and you can also get a compatible phone mount for dirt cheap. Microsoft’s controller also easily connects to PCs and Android phones, making it one of the most versatile gaming controllers on the market period.
Best for wireless gaming on your phone
Xbox One controller
A great option for all your gaming needs.
Microsoft’s controller is your best option for Stadia in its current state, and it gets bonus marks for having a superior thumbstick layout and superior wireless connectivity for Android phones and PCs for all your gaming needs.
Best for living room gaming
Google Stadia Premiere Edition
No console, no maintenance, just video games.
The Stadia controller is your only option for couch gaming on Stadia. Until full wireless support is added for Chrome and phones, it’s hard to recommend this expensive bundle for Google’s gaming service.
December 11, 2019 at 07:06AM