Google killed its Stadia game streaming service earlier this year. But the company also released a tool that allowed anyone with a Stadia Controller to convert it from a WiFi-only tool for cloud gaming to a Bluetooth controller that could be used with just about any device.
At the time Google said its web-based tool would only be available through the end of 2023, but this week the company announced plans to keep the “Switch to Bluetooth mode” web app alive through the end of 2024. It turns out there’s another option though: use an unofficial, open source tool that lets you flash firmware to the controller without using Google’s web app.
Shortly after Google released its web app, developer GaryOderNichts examined the tool, figured out how it flashed firmware to the Stadia Controller, and developed a utility called stadiatool that lets you do the same thing without using Google’s web app.
The upshot is that you don’t need an internet connection, and the firmware flashing process isn’t one-way: when you use Google’s tool to convert a Stadia Controller to Bluetooth, there’s no way to go back, but when you use Gary’s tool, you can flash the original firmware at any time (even if there’s not much reason to do that now that Stadia is dead).
Theoretically this tool could also let you load third-party firmware, but I’m not sure if there is any yet.
And while it’s nice to think that stadiatool will let you keep converting Stadia Controllers years after Google shuts down its web app, things might not be quite that simple. If you pick up a controller from a garage sale a few years from now, you might be able to use stadiatool to turn it into a Bluetooth controller. But only if you can download and save the firmware and flashloader files while they’re still available (or find somebody else who has done that).
While stadiatool is an open source utility available from Gary’s StadiaController GitHub repository, the actual firmware and flashing tools are proprietary files that are not hosted on GitHub. Instead, Gary provides links to download them directly from Google’s servers. It’s unclear if those links will continue working after the web app is shut down.