When Google introduced the capability to play Stadia games over a 4G or 5G connection, it was as a feature the tech giant was still in the midst of testing. Now, it looks like Google is done putting the feature through its paces, because the option to toggle it on has been moved from the Experiments section to the Performance tab. Reports posted on Reddit and Twitter (via 9to5Google) show the toggle in its new place in the Performance tab under Resolution.
The option comes with a note telling players that their resolution will be limited to 720p on mobile data, most likely as a way to help users keep their data use in check. Google also warns users that enabling the feature to play games on Stadia could increase their data usage by up to 2.7GB/hour. In addition, Stadia will now make sure users know they’ve enabled gaming over mobile data by showing them a mobile network icon on the home screen.
In my previous APK teardown, I found the mobile network icon. It’s now enabled under the play button when playing via mobile network pic.twitter.com/z2SmelokH1
— Gem Stadia (@GemStadia) October 6, 2020
Google rolled out Stadia’s experimental mobile data gaming feature in July, a few months after the service launched in November 2019. Prior to its debut, the only way to play over data was to use tethering to trick the app into recognizing it as WiFi. As 9to5Google notes, though, using mobile data means having to switch the Stadia Controller with something else for those who want to play wirelessly, since the device needs a WiFi connection to work.
Google’s Stadia controller now has support for USB-C audio devices when playing on a Chromecast or via a web browser. That gives you an easy way to add headphones and a microphone, since you can simply plug in a set of wired USB-C earbuds like the Google’s Pixel USB-C earbuds, gaming headset, the Asus ROG Delta, or even the wireless SteelSeries Arctis 1 gaming headset with its wireless USB-C adapter (It works, a Redditor confirms.)
It’s nice that Stadia players have another audio option beyond the built-in 3.5mm jack, and it’s cool and unusual for any game controller to offer USB-C audio, but it still took almost a year for Google to add it after promising the feature was coming.
Up until now, you could only use the controller’s USB-C port to charge the controller or to plug it into a smartphone or computer with a USB-C cable. In fact, for a long time after launch, that was the only way to use it with a phone or computer — Google sold a $69 wireless controller that wasn’t wireless unless you were playing on its Chromecast Ultra, up until nearly seven months after launch when Google added support for phone and web in May and June updates respectively. It also took a month after launch until Google released the $15 “claw” mount that let you attach the Stadia controller to your phone so you could use it to play Stadia games on the go.
Google also promised that support for Bluetooth audio would be coming to the controller, but has yet to say when the option will actually arrive. At least with Google’s new Chromecast, the company’s giving itself time to keep its promises: Google says it won’t support Stadia until the first half of next year.
The saga of Stadia, Google’s streaming game service that still hasn’t released in many regions around the world, keeps getting stranger. Google has just released a new Chromecast for TVs, and while it comes with over 6500 apps, Stadia isn’t one of them right now.
The Verge got their hands on the new Chromecast, which comes with Google TV, and found that there was no official Stadia app at launch. While they were able to get Stadia working through sideloading, it’s not an ideal solution, and it means that using Google’s service on this Google product at launch is inconvenient.
According to The Verge, the device will be updated to support Stadia officially in “the first half” of 2021. Stadia is officially supported by the Chromecast Ultra, which makes its lack of inclusion here especially confusing. The only way to get the Ultra now is through the Stadia Premiere Edition kit, strangely enough.
The Verge speculates that this might have something to do with the Android TV operating system that the new Chromecast runs on, and the higher expectations for latency and clarity players have when gaming on a television.
Stadia currently doesn’t have an official iOS app, either, although someone has found a way to get the service working on an iPhone.
While the Stadia has had some clear issues, game streaming does not appear to be going anywhere–Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax, for instance, was likely motivated by a desire to get their hands on Bethesda’s Orion streaming technology, as well as their games.