Stadia Says Goodbye With Bluetooth And Crap Game

In just a few days time, Google’s Stadia game streaming service will finally shut down for good. But not for any technical reason, mind you. Microsoft has managed to demonstrate that streaming modern games over home and even mobile Internet connections is viable with their immensely popular Game Pass Ultimate service, and NVIDIA is making similar inroads with GeForce Now. No, like so many of Google’s failed experiments, they’ve simply decided they don’t want to play anymore and are taking their proverbial ball home back with them.

But not all is lost for those who shelled out money for Stadia’s wares. Not only will Google be refunding any money players spent on games, but a company representative has also announced they will be releasing a tool to unlock the latent Bluetooth capabilities of the service’s custom controller — hopefully stemming a surge of e-waste before it starts.

Thanks for playing, chumps.

In a forum thread titled “A Gift from the Stadia Team”, Community Manager [DanFromGoogle] explains that information on how you can enable Bluetooth on the controller will be coming next week. In the meantime, he also announced the immediate release of “Worm Game”, a tech demo that staffers apparently used to test out capabilities of the streaming service before its public release.

That this ridiculously simple game, which looks all the world like something a kid would crank out during an after-school programming class, will be the final title to officially release on Stadia is a stunningly insulting epitaph for the fledgling service. But then, Google seems to have developed a special affinity for mistreating their most loyal cattle users over these last few years.

Enabling Bluetooth on a game controller might not seem like such a big deal, but in this case, it will potentially give the piece of hardware a second chance at life. The Stadia controller is unique in that it uses WiFi to communicate directly over the Internet to Google’s streaming service, so once those servers stop responding, the orphaned device will end up being little more than a curiosity. Although it does technically work over USB, being able to use it wirelessly will not only provide a more modern experience, but help justify its internal batteries.

The last time we mentioned the Stadia controller, it was to document one user’s attempt to rid it of an internal microphone they didn’t feel comfortable with. Now that the service is being put to pasture, we wonder if we’ll start to see more hacks involving the admittedly interesting peripheral. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for them, but if you see anything we miss, you know where to send it.

26 thoughts on “Stadia Says Goodbye With Bluetooth And Crap Game

    1. They have been totally awesome about this entire thing.

      They refunded the hardware and software I purchased. I got to play games for free and got to keep a free piece of hardware to hack.

      1. And the only thing they wanted was to kill both physical and digital games, and make the users totally dependant from their servers, and unable to own or mod the games they purchased. WHAT A DEAL!

  1. Wow! Unlocking the device at end of life and refunding the price of the games?

    That’s brilliant of Google. If you loved Stadia you’ll be sad to see it go. But that’s unheard of levels of responsibility from a company at a products end of life.

    Refunding the price of the games means all the game time was free I guess big loss is any save data if it’s not transferable.

    And the control being unlocked is also amazing I’ve used the pads and they are good quality (and not cheap)!

    1. The cynic in me says Stadia controllers being binned because they’re wired only post-Stadia would be a PR disaster which encourages this good will gesture. It’s still appreciated. I have an Nvidia Shield controller that connected to a Shield Tablet they no longer make, it’s in the same compatibility situation but didn’t get a bluetooth patch. Shame as it had modern features like a headphone jack and little touchpad for navigating Windows.

  2. Stadia was a fantastic and awful service at the same time. 5 seconds after you pay for a game, you’re playing it. Or if you see a neat game trailer, just click a button to start playing the demo. That said, both their library and pricing were awful. The tech was fantastic. If they had stuck around a little longer, they might have broken their chicken-egg problem of attracting devs and gamers. But Google’s reputation is now self fulfilling prophecy. I’ll never again buy any content that depends on any Google server. They’re neither dependable nor trustworthy.

    Speaking of disappointment, how ’bout that FPV contest that Hackaday seems to have abandoned.

    1. ” If they had stuck around a little longer, they might have broken their chicken-egg problem of attracting devs and gamers.”

      Go the epic route. Oh wait, people didn’t like that.

      1. I ran a GameStop when Stadia was announced and remember being at a “class” for Google at our conference where they teach us about all the things coming out and brainwash us.

        They sounded like people who had NO CLUE how to appeal to anyone who has ever played a video game. An IKEA assembly manual would have more unique personality.

  3. As a disappointed Stadia (and GTalk, and GReader… yeah my expectations were low) that’s a hell of a harsh take on the Worm Game, which was just a fun little sharing of a toy they had built internally, by the engineers turning the lights off. It really wasn’t insulting.

    In fact, the whole shutdown of Stadia wasn’t too insulting, in the scale of things, considering they refunded *everything* users spent on Stadia. Developing open Bluetooth capability for the controller is a bonus.

  4. Stadia is yet another product killed by Google but the way they’re going out deserves some praise even if they’re doing it solely for PR. They didn’t need to refund everything or unlock Bluetooth on the controller. Other game streaming services like OnLive went under with nothing. No refunds and their microconsole hardware immediately turned into e-waste.

    Slamming the tech demo game is a bit harsh. I tried it and its a decent “Snake” style game. They didn’t need to release it but did so anyway as a final goodbye from the service.

    The Stadia controller is made well and deserves to be saved from the trash. Buying a Stadia Premiere bundle on eBay used to be the cheapest way to get a 4K capable Chromecast as Google gave out so many of them.

    1. You gotta be kidding. If they wanted to say a final goodbye, they could have made all the games on the service free to play for the next however many days, really go out with a bang. They are one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world, you expect me to believe they couldn’t organize something like that with the various parties involved?

      I’m supposed to be thankful for them tossing up some shovelware they had sitting around the office? Come on.

      I’ll admit the rest of the shutdown was handling pretty well, but this “gift” is a little too “let them eat cake” for my tastes.

      1. I think all the companies who own those games would be peeved at them giving away access.

        Dead games is a huge problem with games-as-a-service, and I don’t just mean streaming services like Stadia. All those mandatory online checks for games, even if they’re single-player. Weird DRM. Licenses expiring.

        It’s bloody fantastic my Stadia controller is becoming a bluetooth-enabled device instead of a lump of garbage. And they could’ve just… not released anything.

        1. That’s an interesting thought, so I checked it out. Looks like the Stadia store closed back in late September when they announced the service was going down, and refunds started to go out in November.

          So players could still access the games in their libraries (which technically at this point would be free) until the shutdown, but couldn’t add new ones.

  5. I bought my Stadia controller at a special action price for 22 euros together with a Chromecast.
    Sold my old Chromecast. Now Google has reimbursed the 22 euros, so I actually made a profit on this.
    And speaking of abandonware: this caused me to check my Ouya controllers. Looks like I was just in time in removing the batteries from them.

  6. I’m a little sad that there wasn’t a larger hacking scene around these controllers. The fact that you have a piece of hardware that both functions as a controller, AND has a wifi capable SOC is basicly unheard of. For instance, imagine this as a bluetooth game controller you could connect a laptop to and run TAS gameplay instructions or macros through directly. IT would require custom firmware, but granting that existed it would make it a completely unique piece of hardware.

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