With Stadia now running on Android phones other than Pixel, one question has raised its head again: why are there no touchscreen controls for mobile play?
After all, you can't always be expected to attach a Stadia or other Bluetooth controller, such as the Xbox One or PS4 DualShock 4 equivalents, to your phone via a clip holder - especially when on a short commute. So, adding the option for touch controls to the Stadia app is a no-brainer surely?
Well, we can now safely say that we understand why Google hasn't bothered.
Reasons why touch controls don't work with Stadia
TouchStadia does exactly what it says on the tin - overlays the entire set of Stadia controller buttons onto a phone or tablet display. However, you need more dexterity than a Victorian-era pickpocket and a similar appendage count as a centipede to make use of them adequately.
Added to that, when you are playing your fingers just get in the way.
You can try it for yourself, using the installation instructions we've included below, but the issue doesn't lie with the excellent TouchStadia programming, they lie in the games themselves. None of the titles you can play through Google Stadia were designed to be played using touch controls - not one.
Indeed, the best games on Stadia currently - Destiny 2, Metro Exodus, Borderlands 3 and the Tomb Raider trilogy - are tricky enough to play using a gamepad, let alone requiring you to dart your fingers around a screen like a Star Trek extra. PC gamers will attest to that.
We're not even fans of touch controls on action games designed specifically for mobile, even though they are often much more intuitive and simplified.
So, while valiant an effort TouchStadia is, we don't expect Google to implement its own touch control system in future. One cloud gaming platform did add that option and then promptly fell over. And, while it wasn't the straw that broke the already wobbling OnLive's back, it didn't do enough to save it neither.
Still, don't just take our word for it, give it a go yourself. We think you'll see what we're touching on. Ahem.
How to add touch controls to Google Stadia
There are two methods to add TouchStadia to your device.
To add TouchStadia to a Windows machine (or ChromeBook, if that's your device of choice), just install the Chrome extension found here. Then open Stadia through the browser.
You can move the buttons around by pressing CTRL + ; and layout mode will be activated. Press it again to close it.
The Android method to activate TouchStadia is much more complicated.
You need to open the Chrome browser on your supported Pixel, Samsung, Razer or ROG phone, head to the Stadia homepage and tap on the "hamburger" icon in the top right hand corner of the app - to access the Chrome menu. Then turn on desktop mode by tapping on "Desktop site". That will allow you to play Stadia games in the browser (TouchStadia doesn't work with the official app).
The Stadia page should then show that it has recognised a controller and the key overlay should appear.
Start any games and voila, it works!
Unfortunately, you will have to follow the steps above every time you start a new session on your phone. And, it is advised that you always copy the current version of the code from the link above, as it might change as Stadia versions advance.