Google’s Stadia Controller won’t work with Bluetooth headsets at launch


Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Google’s Stadia controller won’t be able to wirelessly stream game audio to your Bluetooth headphones or gaming headsets when it launches in November, according to Stadia Product Director Andrey Doronichev. In a Reddit AMA earlier today, Doronichev suggests people plug in a set of wired headphones into the controller’s 3.5mm jack if they want to listen to game audio in privacy.

There will be a work-around for Stadia users come launch time — that is, so long as you have a Pixel-series phone or plan to play Stadia games on the Chrome browser. Pointed out by 9to5Google, Doronichev says that you’ll be able to use your Bluetooth headphones to play Stadia by pairing them to your PC or Pixel phone, which will be one of the only mobile device line that will support Stadia at launch. (Doronichev didn’t specify what Pixel phones would work on Stadia, so perhaps it will come to both the Pixel 3 line and earlier Pixel devices.)

This solution will work because it circumvents the controller, which requires a Wi-Fi connection to sync up with whatever screen you’re accessing Stadia on. At launch, this will impact Stadia Founder’s Edition buyers who were hoping to stream audio to Bluetooth headphones while gaming on the TV throught the bundled Chromecast Ultra. For everyone else, it seems like the workaround will be the solution if you want to wireless audio.

It’s disappointing, I get it. I wanted this feature so badly in the Nintendo Switch that I bought a $60 Bluetooth audio adapter. But, this feature is slated to arrive for the controller at some point. As detailed in the controller’s product page, the Stadia gamepad will ship with its Bluetooth support switched off. Some fine print further down the page says that it may be enabled in the future. So, Google may switch it on once things smooth out a bit following the initial launch period.

Until then, you’ll have to bust out your old wired headphones.