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PSA: Stop your Stadia controller from becoming e-waste on December 31

Don't forget to switch to Bluetooth mode before it's too late.
By
December 11, 2023
Google Stadia controller on table
TL;DR
  • Stadia controllers could only connect through Wi-Fi when they launched.
  • Google allowed Stadia controller owners to switch the controller to Bluetooth mode back in January 2023.
  • Stadia controllers could essentially become useless if they aren’t switched to Bluetooth mode before December 31, 2023.
  • Only USB-C connections will work if you do not update before this deadline.

Although the game streaming platform known as Stadia is long gone, Google’s Stadia controllers are still useful. If you remember to switch the controller over to Bluetooth mode, then it can used with other gaming platforms. But if you haven’t made the switch yet, you better hurry, or that controller will only work while connected to your PC or tablet via USB-C cable.

Shortly before Stadia shutdown, Google announced it was giving the Stadia controller a long-requested feature — Bluetooth connectivity. To enable Bluetooth mode, owners had to head over to the Stadia site and navigate to the Switch to Bluetooth mode page. From here you will need to connect your Stadia gamepad via USB-C cable and the webpage will guide you through each step of the process once you hit “Switch to Bluetooth Mode.”

If you cannot remember if you performed this step, there is an option to check if your Stadia gamepad has the latest Bluetooth patch. For those making the switch, you will be guided through a process that will “unlock” your gamepad before the Bluetooth patch can be applied. Once this is done it cannot be reversed. However, with Stadia relegated to the Google Graveyard in the cloud, at least you’re giving your controller a new lease of life beyond the failed cloud gaming platform.

After the process is done, the controller will start using Bluetooth Low Energy connections. As a result, it loses some features like wireless passthrough audio, but it gains the ability to be used on Steam (Windows 10, 11, and MacOS 13), Chrome OS, Android, and potentially other platforms. When connected to most systems, your Stadia gamepad will be recognized as a generic controller. From here you may need to remap face buttons to get the optimum experience from game to game.

To pair with any other platforms, you will need to press and hold the “Stadia” + “Y” buttons until the controller light flashes orange. The device will appear in Bluetooth configuration menus as a gamepad with “Stadia” followed by a serial or code. When paired, you can turn the gamepad on and a white flashing light will indicate that it is attempting to connect to the last paired device. A solid white light confirms that your device is connected.

The decision to enable Bluetooth is giving more Stadia controllers a new life as a competent wireless gamepad for a number of services. However, the deadline remains set at December 31, 2023. Now that the year is almost over, you only have a couple of weeks left to prevent your Stadia controller from becoming less capable or e-waste if you are unwilling to play wired. Google also has an FAQ to answer any other questions you may have about the controller.