We did a video not long ago taking a look at the long-awaited Stadia app for Android/Google TV. While Google launched the new (and quite popular) Chromecast with Google TV back in October, Stadia’s official arrival only happened last month. It was a conundrum that didn’t help Stadia out in the least and though it was a late arrival, we’re all very glad the official app is here and works so well on just about any Google/Android TV device you can install it on.
With more than 50,000+ installs already, it is clear that many users are taking advantage of the new app and playing games on the various Android TV boxes and dongles already out in the wild. Upon reviewing the app and putting it through the normal paces, there’s one advantage I leveraged and completely underestimated at the time: the ability to use 3rd party controllers on my television with Stadia thanks to this new app.
I’ve used Playstation, Nintendo Switch, and XBOX controllers with Stadia on my Chromebook for quite some time now, so it didn’t strike me how useful this was on the new Chromecast with Google TV until Joe pointed it out to me. Up until this new app launched, the primary way to play Stadia on a big screen was via the Chromecast Ultra. Since that device lacks an interface and Bluetooth support, there was never any way to pair up a non-Stadia controller for gameplay. My 3rd-party controller usage prior to the app launching for Android TV was limited to my phone or Chromebook.
Since the new Chromecast (and any Android TV box you can get your hands on) has Bluetooth baked in, hooking up a 3rd-party controller is as easy as you’d expect. Once paired up, you can navigate the Stadia app just fine and play games just like you’d expect. For most people, this is a pretty big deal. No longer are you locked into only the Stadia controller when playing on the biggest screen in the room.
Low barrier to entry
Since many households have a controller laying around here or there, this means that new users can sign up for a free month of Stadia, install the app on the Chromecast, hook up a Bluetooth controller they already own, and get started playing AAA games with no investment outside the Chromecast or Android TV device. In most cases, this means we’re talking less than $50 or even as low as $25 if you take the Onn. Android TV box from Walmart into consideration.
That’s honestly a bit nuts if you think about it. With a service as advanced as Stadia that can deliver great gameplay on very low-end hardware, users can jump in and get started with basically no barrier to entry. And I honestly just missed how big of a deal that is while I was using the app on my living room TV. It was so simple to grab a controller and get to gaming that it went right over my head how amazing it all was.
We’ve said it so many times that I’m blue in the face, but Stadia is remarkable from a technological standpoint. The fact that such a well-built gaming service can be accessed on such a wide variety of hardware and works with so many random controllers is honestly technology at its best. It is for that reason that I sincerely hope they keep pushing forward with it and Stadia eventually grows into what Google initially wanted for it. The games are coming in with great regularity but the player base needs a shot in the arm. With services as good and as democratic as Stadia has become, it feels like this new app could be the fuel it needs to finally catch on with more gamers. Here’s hoping.