Enlarge / The official Stadia controller in “clear white”.


Probably the first good news for Stadia in 2021 will be from Google besieged game streaming service has finally landed on one company’s televisions – and only those made in 2020 and beyond.

That’s not necessarily a reason to throw the band and throw a “Stadia is back” party (especially with no exclusive Stadia games on the horizon.) But the late Tuesday arrival of the game service on modern LG TVs is still intriguing, largely because of how clean and seamless it is. The results make me wonder how much better the Stadia story could have turned out if such app support had been there from the start.

Do you have extra long USB cables lying around?

Since its limited launch in November 2019, Google’s Stadia service has been added many platformsincluding laptops and desktops, Android and iOS devices, and Google TV branded streaming devices. Smart TV support was sparse, however, as popular device families like Amazon Fire, Roku, and Apple TV missed out on Stadia. There was also a lack of built-in smart TV support from major manufacturers such as Samsung and LG. (It is worth noting that Amazon Luna and Apple Arcade compete as subscription-based gaming services.)

Tuesday’s version of Stadia on LG TVs is bringing Google’s gaming app to any set that supports “webOS 5.0 and above,” and it’s following an announcement from LG at CES earlier this year who have promised a form of Stadia on LG sets in the “second half of 2021”. The first week of December technically meets this deadline.

My own LG CX, made in 2020, meets LG’s OS requirements, so I took the simple steps to access LG’s App Store, download Stadia on my TV, and start the service. The app’s introductory screen instructs users to either create a new account in a web browser or to enter existing Stadia credentials using the remote control. It then displays instructions on how to connect a gamepad to an LG TV – which may not be elegant depending on the device.

LG’s 2021 sets include Bluetooth support, but the 2020 sets don’t. This gave me the option of either dusting off my existing Stadia controller or taking a long USB cable, plugging it into the open USB port on my TV on the back, and physically connecting my replacement Xbox or PlayStation gamepads. (The instructions from Stadia said I could toggle the Stadia app on my phone and then wirelessly connect my gamepad to the phone while I was also playing on the TV since they are all connected to the same cloud server a welcome stopgap measure, but it’s certainly not elegant.)

This outdated screen of Stadia's UI continues to resemble what you can expect from the new Smart TV implementation on LG TVs.  And yes, that means navigating menus to find the most important thing "Link code" for official Stadia controllers.
Enlarge / This outdated screen of Stadia’s UI continues to resemble what you can expect from the new Smart TV implementation on LG TVs. And yes, that means navigating menus to find the all-important “link code” for official Stadia controllers.

Any wired gamepad will be recognized when you exit and re-enter the app. Unfortunately, Stadia controller users always have to use the TV’s remote to launch the app and select their account, then enter a special four-button code on the gamepad to associate it with your session. Unlike Chromecast and Google TV, the current version of LG’s Stadia app does not place this gamepad code on the main screen. Every time you launch Stadia on LG TVs you’ll either have to use your remote to find the Controllers tab or write down your previous shortcut code and hope it doesn’t change. Assuming someone on the Stadia technical team is still on the job and listening, can you fix the problem?

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