Earlier this week, Google announced it rolled out a new Stadia Experiment for mobile phones: the ability to play games over Stadia via your mobile network in 4G or 5G, and anyone with an account and the app on their phone can opt-in to try it.
By Joanna Nelius
It’s another step toward what the real vision of cloud gaming has been all along: playing videogames anytime, anywhere. But there are a few caveats to using Stadia on a 4G or 5G network right now, mainly dealing with speed and accessibility—and some annoying limitations to control.
If you want to try it for yourself navigate to the Experiments section and enable the feature. Once you connect to Stadia through a mobile carrier, you’ll find yourself dealing with the biggest annoyance of Stadia on mobile broadband: the required wired controller.
Yup, it’s back to physically plugging in the controller to your phone with a USB-C cable. That’s because the Stadia controller cannot connect via Bluetooth and requires a wireless broadband connection when used with your phone. Stadia uses Bluetooth to communicate with Stadia controllers during setup only, but it’s clearly equipped with Bluetooth.
Google claims the controller will only work over wifi, and not Bluetooth or mobile broadband, to help the controller “deliver precise controls.”
The downside of having to rely on plugging the controller in isn’t just the unsightly USB-C cord. The cable will use your phone’s battery to keep the controller charged, so your phone battery will drain faster—but you can’t plug it in to charge because the USB-C port is taken up by the controller.
And you’ll want to every mAH of battery power you can get because the battery in my phone drained 10% in five minutes of Stadia on 4G use.
Things look better when it comes to connecting to a mobile network, in the sense that, well, it works as it should. While AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have expanded their 5G networks a little bit, 5G is by no means accessible to the majority of people in the U.S.
Most people are still running on 4G, which can average download speeds well over 30 Mbps depending on network conditions. Google recommends a minimum of 10 Mbps to play games on Stadia, so a 4G connection is enough if network conditions are good.
But here’s what happens when they’re not…
My 4G speed was between 13 and 16 Mbps from my living room in the middle of the afternoon. Running Stadia on my Android phone at 1080p, unless I was playing something like Doom 64, the pixelation and lag was so bad it made every almost game unplayable.
I’d jump, and a full second or two later my character would react on the screen. I’d move at all and the graphics would blur into an indistinguishable mess.
Originally published at Gizmodo