Google Stadia may not be the fastest-growing of the gaming platforms right now but it does have a wealth of top-tier titles available and its dedicated controller is one of the best around. Better still, that controller can actually be used on other platforms. Including, for the time being, Android and iOS devices or computers.
Now, it’s already well known that on mobile platforms and even online, the Google Stadia controller can be used for Stadia itself. And it can even be used wirelessly on most of those. Since it syncs to the cloud rather than via Bluetooth for the service — one of Stadia’s biggest perks. But that’s not what we’re discussing here.
The Google Stadia controller brings more value to the table than that. Primarily because it can also be used on those platforms as an HID device. Put more succinctly, it can be used just like any other wired controller on those platforms, well beyond playing games on Google Stadia itself. Whether for a top, controller-supporting mobile game. Or for indie or triple-A PC games. And that is what this guide is here to discuss.
So if you’re looking to get more out of your new — or old, for early adopters — Stadia controller, read on.
Here’s how to link up your Stadia controller with PC or Android platforms
Getting started linking up your Google Stadia controller on a different platform outside of the Stadia service is fairly straightforward. It relies primarily on the fact that the controllers are also “HID” devices.
That also means that not every Android, iOS, or PC title will properly support the controller. And some remapping, in-game, will likely be required depending on the title. Obviously, for mobile platforms, HID controller support will need to be in place, to begin with.
- First, you’ll need the proper cable or adapter for your gadget
- If you’re playing on a PC, the USB-C to USB-A cable included with Stadia will work. Or you can use any other USB-C to USB-A cable. Since most PCs and laptops come with standard USB-A ports. Those are, for clarity, rectangular USB ports with no rounded edges. If your PC doesn’t have a USB-A port but utilizes USB-C instead, you’ll need a different cable. Specifically, one that goes from USB-C to whatever the input port on your machine is
- If you’re playing on a smartphone, tablet, or another gadget, you’ll need a cable that matches the input on that device. Most modern smartphones utilize USB-C but some still use micro USB. In the latter case, that’s the cable that ends with a rounded edge and a flat edge with two pointed prongs. USB-C, conversely, is a cable that ends in a rounded rectangle and can be inserted either way. So, for these gadgets, you’ll either need to find a good USB-C to USB-C cable or a good adapter from USB-A to USB-C. Or a good USB-C to micro USB cable or adapter. A cable will work better than an adapter because it reduces failure or accidental disconnect points and there are some great ones available for an affordable price
- Once you’ve selected the right cable or adapter for your set-up, you’ll need to plug one end into your Stadia Controller. As shown in the images below, the end that goes into your controller will always be the USB-C end
- Next, connect the other end of your cable — our example uses a USB-C to USB-A cable for use with a Windows laptop — to the device that you’ll be gaming on. In our case, that’s a Windows 11 laptop made by Acer
- Launch your game and your controller should be recognized just like any other wired HID controller
There are a few limitations …for now
As hinted above, there are a few limitations for this set-up process — as is always the case with how-to guides. Not least of all, there’s one set of platforms that the Google Stadia controller doesn’t seem to work on. At least not widely or without serious issues. Namely, that’s game consoles. So you can’t simply plug in your controller to play on the latest Xbox, Playstation, or Nintendo console.
That may or may not come as something of a letdown if that’s what you were hoping to accomplish here. But it does make quite a lot of sense. While Stadia’s top competitors are cloud gaming platforms, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for the controller to work with its other competitors — consoles. But it does make sense for it to work with devices where Stadia is itself available. And as an HID, since not every device supported wireless play out-of-the-gate.
Google may open that up later on, or it may be on the console makers to allow that. Some controllers from other consoles do work with Stadia in a wired fashion — or wirelessly, in a few instances on a few platforms. But it doesn’t work for now and exactly who might be responsible isn’t clear either.