If you bought a Google Stadia controller and joined the cloud gaming platform, you probably know that it has now been retired. Subscribers were notified in the last quarter of 2022 of Google Stadia’s impending demise and refunds were processed.
Google Stadia shut down on January 18, 2023, potentially leaving many wireless gamepads stuck on an inaccessible server. However, Google wisely avoided a potential PR storm by releasing a Bluetooth update for the devices.
How to enable Google Stadia’s hidden Bluetooth mode and use wireless game controllers on other devices.
Prepare your Stadia controller and PC
The Bluetooth driver for Google Stadia controllers can be downloaded from the Google website. But to install it, you need to prepare both your Stadia controllers and your PC.
Charge your Stadia controller
Whether you’ve been using your Stadia controller regularly or it’s been sitting in a box for months, it should be at least 50% charged before you start. This means you need to connect it to a suitable USB charger for at least 30 minutes.
What you need on your PC to upgrade a Stadia controller
While the controller is charging, make sure your PC is ready. After testing the process on two Stadia controllers, I found that you need the following:
- Stadia Controller USB Type-C Cable
- A Windows PC (we initially tried on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, but it failed to detect the Stadia controller)
- Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browser (other Chromium browsers may work)
Unfortunately, other browsers are not suitable; The Stadia website will not function properly without a Chromium-based browser.
Be sure to use the original USB Type-C cable that came with your Google Stadia controller. While others may work, it’s not an exact science. Only the supplied cable is 100% reliable.
Although a little repetitive, the process of updating a Google Stadia controller with Bluetooth connectivity is fairly quick.
- Connect the USB Type-C cable to your computer
- Go to Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge stadia.google.com/controller
- If prompted, sign in to the Google Account associated with Stadia.
- click on Switch to Bluetooth mode
- Click again on the “Important things to know” screen. Switch to Bluetooth mode
- Below Switch to Bluetooth mode click on To start up
- click on the Terms of Service checkbox, then To start up
- Follow the instructions to connect your Stadia controller to the USB Type-C cable.
- click on Continueso Allow Chrome to verify
- In the dialog box, select your controller (it may be labeled as Stadia rev.A Controller, USB COMPOSITE DEVICE, SP Blank RT Family or Bootloader)
- click on Connect
- Wait for confirmation and then click Next step
- When prompted, disconnect the controller, hold down the mouse button. Menu (…) while reconnecting the cable, then press the button Menu+Stadia+A+Y all at the same time (you may need another person to help you here)
- This will unlock the controller, so click Next step thereafter Allow Chrome to download
- Again, select your controller from the dialog and click Connect
- Wait for Bluetooth to be installed and enabled on the Stadia controller.
- Unplug the USB cable
Now you’re ready to pair the Google Stadia controller with a Bluetooth-enabled computer or mobile device.
If at any point something doesn’t work as expected, you can go back to the previous screen and try again.
To connect your Stadia controller, first make it visible by holding down Stadia and Y until the Stadia button flashes orange.
On the target device, enter pairing mode to find the controller and pair when prompted. The Stadia button light should start flashing white. When connected, it will change to a solid white light.
Google has confirmed that a Bluetooth-enabled Stadia controller has been tested:
- Windows 10 and 11 + Steam
- macOS 13 + Steam
- Chrome OS
Our own tests show that the Stadia controller in Bluetooth mode also works with a Steam Deck (SteamOS).
It does not work with Xbox One (which uses a proprietary wireless receiver), Sony PlayStation 4/5 or Nintendo Switch.
In addition to wireless connectivity, Google Stadia controllers also offer USB connectivity, audio support, and tandem.
(This nifty feature uses a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable to connect one Stadia controller to another, allowing two people to play together as one. It’s actually a feature of most controllers, but most do not know) .
Fortunately, all these features are preserved except for audio support. While you could previously connect a wired headset to your Stadia controller (either the 3.5mm port or the USB Type-C port) and enjoy audio, this feature is not supported by Bluetooth. It is now only available with a USB connection to your PC or console.
Similarly, the controller’s rumble function does not work over Bluetooth, but is retained for USB gaming.
Two buttons are not mapped in Bluetooth mode. The Google Assistant and Capture buttons can therefore be remapped in your favorite games if the feature is supported.
Problems using Stadia Controller Bluetooth Hack
While you can successfully play on other devices with a Stadia controller in Bluetooth mode, there are a few issues with it.
Primarily, as mentioned, it disables wireless mode. This suggests that the controller has a dual-function radio that supports wireless/Wi-Fi or Bluetooth BLE, but not both.
When Bluetooth is enabled, automatic re-pairing doesn’t seem to happen. You need to put the controller back into pairing mode and repeat the Bluetooth pairing process.
Bluetooth updates for Google Stadia controllers are supported until December 31, 2023, so there’s plenty of time for updates to fix connection errors and missing features.
Check for Google Stadia Controller updates
It helps to know how to check for updates for the Google Stadia controller.
- Again, on a Windows PC using the Chrome or Edge browser, go to the following address stadia.google.com/controller
- If the “Play wirelessly with Bluetooth” screen appears, click the following link Switch to Bluetooth mode
- Below Check status and updates click on Check
- Check the box to accept the T&Cs, then To start up
- Connect your Stadia controller to your PC with the USB Type-C cable
- click on Continue
- click on Allow Chrome to verify
- Then select your controller from the list Connect
- Wait for the update check to start
- Once the process is complete, you can disconnect your controller.
We hope that Google will send an email to previous Stadia subscribers when updates are available. Otherwise, it’s worth checking for an update every month or so until the updater closes.
Your Google Stadia controller is now ready for action
Although the process is a bit complicated, it doesn’t take much time to enable Bluetooth on a Google Stadia controller.
Thousands of Google Stadia controllers could have been deposited. It’s true that given Google’s mismanagement of its cloud gaming service, many controllers have already been dumped on eBay and other secondhand outlets.
On the bright side, these units are affordable and can be purchased used. They are also very good controllers. So get a cheap Google Stadia controller, turn on Bluetooth and enjoy your favorite games on PC or mobile.