Is it worth buying a Stadia Controller?

Is it worth buying a Stadia Controller? We’ve seen that question a lot from community members. So, read on to find out.

Play on the devices you already own has long been the mantra of Stadia. Whilst this is true, and absolutely possible, Stadia do offer their own hardware to use for gaming. So, is it worth buying a dedicated Stadia Controller? 

Stadia Wasabi Controller

Where can I play? 

Without the Stadia controller it is still possible to get an almost full experience of the Stadia platform. It is still possible to play anywhere from your phone to your TV. Every game, with the exception of PUBG, has both controller and keyboard and mouse support. This enables you to play Stadia on the most basic PC, Laptop, or Chromebook. And of course tablets. 

Wherever or however you have played games in the past, you can try Stadia in a way that suits you and maybe discover new ways to play too. 

What controller can I use? 

If you have a controller lying around, chances are it will work with Stadia. Whether it is a lesser known branded bluetooth controller, or an Xbox or Playstation controller, Stadia will most likely work. The only officially supported controllers other than Stadias own are Playstation and Xbox ones. But others will work. You can either use bluetooth to your phone or tablet, or, for a more robust connection, you can play via a USB port on a PC or laptop. 

There are even ways to play with these third party controllers on your biggest screen providing you have a modern Chromecast or Android TV. This can be done by using Stadia’s Bridge mode. Without using Bridge mode, you can also use your Phone screen as a controller with the game on your TV. 

And, of course, there are a variety of dedicated mobile controllers such as the Razer Kishi V2 which work great with Stadia.

Razer Kishi Stadia
Assassins Creed on the Razer Kishi v2

Why buy a Stadia Controller? 

Whilst all of these options are viable, they all have drawbacks in their own way. For examples; using the phone’s touch screen controls is more difficult for fast paced games and first person shooters. Moving around an open world is easy enough but it gets more difficult when it comes to crouching, aiming down sights, and shooting a moving target. For these situations, a controller or mouse and keyboard are always best. 

For competitive gamers, input lag may be a concern, whilst this is not really an issue with cloud gaming in general, if you are extremely sensitive, you may notice the difference and perhaps lose your competitive edge when using a third party bluetooth controllers. This is simply due to the relay from controller, to device, to the cloud, and then back to device. The Stadia controller uses wifi instead of bluetooth. This makes a significant difference by bypassing the device and going straight to the cloud servers where the game is being streamed from – typically saving a couple tens of ms. Gaming this way may feel more responsive. 

How does it feel? 

It’s all well and good being more responsive but if the controller doesn’t feel good then what’s the point? If the most fuel efficient car feels painfully uncomfortable to drive, people would opt for a less fuel efficient option. You have nothing to worry about here

At Stadia’s launch event, the design team discussed in detail the great lengths that they went to to ensure the comfort of the controller. Whilst at the time, talking about how they were inspired by chef’s knives seemed comical, it is something I appreciated right out of the box. The controller felt different in the hand than anything else. Bigger and more human sized than the more compact Dual shock controllers, yet comfortable and easier to grip than my Xbox controller. It felt natural. Like it was supposed to be in the hand for hours. 

The controller has gained a reputation for its comfort in long gaming sessions that gamers have been known to ask Stadia to open up the bluetooth functionality of the controller (used only for setup) so that they can use it to play games on other services too. 

Workarounds on how to achieve this have been spotted on Twitter and Reddit. 

Stadia Wasabi Controller

Conclusion

The Stadia controller is the most comfortable controller that myself, and many other gamers, have ever used. It is the most responsive and reliable to play Stadia games. Pairing is straightforward and easy to do. Not as simple as what I have heard from people say about the Luna controller, however, it does mean that it’s easier to play couch co-op games than on Luna due to the controller being linked to your account. Once paired, there is no reason to do the setup again unless changing wifi connection. It can be used both wired or wirelessly for gamers on the go. And durable? Well it’s been tossed in my bag and dropped by my overly excited 6 year old many times. Still after almost 3 years, it works fine and doesn’t have a mark on it. 

It is hard not to recommend the Stadia controller for people wanting to play on the platform but I understand that there are a couple of turn offs for people. Most notably, the price and the internal, non replaceable battery.  

I have had no issues with battery life to speak of but rest assured that if you do, the controller is covered under warranty and the customer service is phenomenal when it comes to replacing a faulty item. It is charged with a USB-C cable which is handy. Most devices these days are also USB-C; so, even though one comes in the box, you, like me, probably have more lying around. Meaning access to a charger is never too far away. 

As for the price, it isn’t cheap. But as with anything in life, the best things are worth paying for. My advice: make sure you like the service first. Try Stadia for free with the devices you already own. Then, decide. But if you do experience any input issues, remember, this is more than likely due to your setup and the experience will only get better with the Stadia controller. 


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Pedder

Pedder is a Dad of 3, a Tech Geek, a Video Maker, and a Casual streamer. Follow on Twitter: @Just_Pedder, YouTube: Pedder Games and Buy Pedder a Coffee

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