Google is continuing its push into cloud gaming with the opening of pre-orders for its dedicated Stadia Controller gamepad, available outside the Stadia Founder's Edition bundle for the first time.
Announced back in March as the commercialised version of October 2018's Project Stream cloud gaming experiment, Google Stadia is powered by data centres packed with Intel-based servers running custom AMD Radeon graphics processors not a million miles away from the commercial Radeon RX Vega 56. Offering up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second - though limited to 1080p on the free membership tier - Stadia is schedule to launch in the UK this November, a month after Microsoft opens a public beta programme for its rival Project xCloud platform.
During Google's launch announcement earlier this month, the company confirmed the Stadia Founder's Edition hardware bundle: Priced at £119 (inc. VAT), the bundle includes a Chromecast Ultra streaming dongle with Stadia support, a custom Stadia gamepad, and three months of Stadia Pro membership - the latter unlocking the promised 4K60 streaming resolution, 5.1 surround-sound audio, and a pledge to provide free games on a regular though unspecified schedule. Now, the company has announced its first standalone Stadia hardware, making the gamepad available to buy outside the bundle for the first time.
As with the bundle itself, the Stadia gamepad won't land until the service launches in November. When it does, buyers are promised that it will be compatible with multiple Stadia devices - including TVs running the Stadia app or using the Chromecast Ultra dongle, laptops, desktops, and the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a Android smartphones. Interestingly, the controller does not connect to any of these devices directly: Instead, the company revealed at the original launch announcement, the controller connects to the user's Wi-Fi network and from there directly to the remote servers; this, the company claims, helps to reduce lag compared to the traditional approach of having the controller connect to the client device which then transmits the inputs through to the remote server.
The Stadia controller is priced at £59 (inc. VAT) with pre-orders open now; the company warns that buying the controller alone will not provide access to Stadia in November, but only if purchased as a second controller alongside the Founder's Edition or via the Buddy Pass system from a user with the Founder's Edition. More information is available on the official product page.
February 17 2020 | 09:00