Stadia Controller’s Two Extra Buttons Get Seen With WebHID

The Google Stadia game streaming service relied on a proprietary controller. It was a pretty neat piece of hardware that unfortunately looked destined for landfills when Google announced that Stadia would discontinue. Thankfully it’s possible to use them as normal gamepads, and related to that, [Thomas Steiner] has a developer blog post about how to talk to the Stadia controller via WebHID.

(First, a quick recap: Bluetooth mode is a custom firmware that transforms a Stadia controller from proprietary device into standard gamepad that can be connected via USB cable, or wirelessly over Bluetooth.)

But here’s the thing: standard gamepads have 17 total buttons, but the Stadia controller actually has 19 (the extra two are the Assistant and Capture buttons near the center of the unit.)  Those two extra buttons are perfectly functional, but the standard Gamepad API only acknowledges buttons 0-16.

That’s where the WebHID API comes in, allowing one to talk to the two additional Stadia buttons. The Gamepad API handles all the usual gamepad stuff, and the WebHID API can access events like button down and button up for the two additional buttons not covered by the Gamepad API. There’s a demo and source code demonstrating it all working together.

Google’s termination of Stadia left a sour taste in many mouths. But efforts like this to keep the controllers out of landfills are a good direction, even if they don’t really erase the perception of Google as an organization with a penchant for killing off products that customers actively use.

9 thoughts on “Stadia Controller’s Two Extra Buttons Get Seen With WebHID

    1. It’s been a while since I returned this controller before Stadia was being offered as a pay-to-play service, but if I recall correctly that center button was just the power. The webhid is referring to the two buttons above the big stadia button but below the ones you’re referring which act as the typical start/select buttons. Even when the service was going those two extra buttons were useless and always felt like a way to sneak in search products, and thus ads, into the service–Amazon did something similar with the Fire and Luna controllers. It was a pretty decent controller though. Might pick one up out of the junk bin of the price is right. Can’t recall if it has rumble motors.

    2. The two extra buttons can be found in the following places: One is just below the “…” button (the “assistant” button, which looks like a few bubbles), and the other is just below the hamburger-icon button (the “capture” button, which looks like the corners of a square frame.)

      You can see it in the header image for this post (which is a stadia controller). The center “power” button is BTW also a regular button that can be seen via the standard Gamepad API.

  1. i still curse ms to this day for making the “standard gamepad” a thing. diverse controllers was one of the reasons to be a pc gamer in the first place, and then they wanted to bring us down to the level of console peasants. usb hid devices don’t seem to have any limits as those imposed by xinput. i cant help but think this is part of the reason why modern games are soulless clones of their genre standards.

    1. There are plenty of games requiring more inputs and differing types than available on console gamepads.
      I see it as an advantage that a PC can provide for all of them, including encompassing console games along with all the others.
      Traditionally it has been the consoles being limited with input methods, initially due to hardware limitations but more recently only due to artificial limits (using USB making that even more obvious)

      The issue with soulless clones is more of a ‘greed’ problem, as making a PC only game limits their customer pool to PC, while making a console input game includes both groups.
      Fortunately we live in an age with so many entertainment options that this problem isn’t a significant one. Even excluding the soulless clones, there are far more games available to play in a lifetime without running out.

  2. I can’t believe people spent money on Stadia and its associated hardware. Does nobody remember OnLive? There was an effort to make OnLive’s controllers usable as standard input devices as well after the cloud service was shuttered, but at the end of the day you were always better off with official Xbox or PlayStation controllers.

    Don’t get me wrong, game streaming is a fantastic concept. I like the idea that I can play the latest titles without needing to upgrade my hardware, and cloud game saves make it easy to login and resume from anywhere. But these services should offer titles at a discount and stay away from in-house hardware, and instead they should be playable from the controllers and devices you already own.

    It’s crazy to me that Google chose to follow the failed model of OnLive expecting different results, and even crazier that consumers as well chose to ignore history and buy into the hype. These services had no exclusives, no way to play the games offline, and no recourse for redeeming paid-for licenses after the decommissioning of the servers.

    Imagine paying full price for games that you are essentially only renting from a cloud service. Except consumers en masse did it once before, and did it once again. I just don’t get it.

    1. To be fair, OnLive didn’t fail. Sony bought them for their patents, shuttered it, and then used the technology for their own PlayStation Now streaming service.

      I was an OnLive subscriber at the time, and thought the service was a good way to play the PC games that I couldn’t run on my Linux desktop. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing.

    2. I bought into Stadia and no regrets, they refunded all my purchases, I have lots of free controllers and other streaming platforms gifted me games I had purchased, plus I enjoyed the service while it was active. The only loss was not bothering to backup my saves.

  3. The Stadia controller is the most impressive controller I’ve ever had. Its form sits perfectly in your hands, while the slight texture of the plastic gives you the best grip, even with sweaty hands. And it really looks great.
    I got mine when Google was giving them away for free, together with a Chromecast TV dongle and 3 months of Stadia.
    I somehow always knew that google would unlock the BT connectivity someday, I think they announced it several times in the past, so i’m really happy that they finally did it.
    No need to mention that the whole BT lock issue is another shabby tactic by internet giants… bot we’re sloooowly getting used to it ;-)

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