It looks like Google Stadia is going to add touchscreen gameplay support very soon, bringing it closer to the experience Microsoft is offering with xCloud streaming via Xbox Game Pass.
According to 9to5Google, who decompiled the latest software version, it now contains references to “direct touch” and games that support that feature via tapping, swiping, and pinching. It appears that support won’t be universal across games, and it could be a slow rollout to actually get the feature working in bigger titles. With xCloud, Microsoft has touted its touch controls from the beginning, emphasizing bespoke touch layouts to fit games rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Its browser-based version of the service, which is necessary for running on Apple’s devices, will be coming early this year.
The feature’s implementation over a year into Stadia’s lifespan means players who wanted to stream games on the go need to keep a controller with them. It’s not the most practical solution, and because Stadia has controllers connect over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth, those on cellular data will want to keep a USB-C cable with them, too.
Stadia’s latest feature update comes after Google opted to shutter its internal games development division, meaning Stadia will now be a platform for third-party games alone. It has struggled to gain much traction since its launch, and former studio head Jade Raymond has already founded a new company that is working on an original IP for PlayStation. Prior to these positions, she served as studio head for Ubisoft Toronto and EA Motive.