Yup, the ridiculous headline you just read is sadly true. The Amazon Fire TV (pendant) is no longer compatible with Amazon’s own official Fire TV Game Controller. The latest 126.96.36.199 software update for the 3rd-generation Fire TV has removed support for Amazon’s 1st-party gamepad. The Amazon Fire TV Cube will very likely also soon drop support for the game controller.
Amazon has recently added the line “not compatible with Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD – Pendant Design, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, or Fire TV Cube” to the product page of their Fire TV Game Controller. Trying to pair the controller to a Fire TV 3 running the latest 188.8.131.52 software version doesn’t work since the streaming device cannot find the controller. The controller used to work fine with the Fire TV 3. It pairs with and works with the Fire TV 3 running the previous 184.108.40.206 software version, so support for the controller was recently removed.
Even though the product page says that the controller is not compatible with the Fire TV Cube, it does currently still work with Amazon’s newest Fire TV model as of the latest 220.127.116.11 software version that just started rolling out to Fire TV Cubes this week. It seems likely that when the Fire TV Cube eventually gets updated to a 6.2.5.x or greater version of Fire OS, it too will no longer be compatible with the Amazon Fire TV Game Controller. Since the Fire TV Game Controller has never been compatible with any of the Fire TV Edition television models, that leaves the Fire TV 1, Fire TV 2, Fire TV Stick 1, and Fire TV Stick 2 (current model) as the only Fire TV models that are officially compatible with Amazon’s game controller.
The current 2nd-generation Amazon Fire TV Game Controller was introduced 3 years ago alongside the announcement of the 2nd-generation Fire TV. It was offered by itself or paired with the new Fire TV in a gaming edition bundle that substituted the regular Fire TV voice remote with the new game controller. It offered inovative new features such as a microphone for voice commands, a headphone jack for private listening, and motion detection for battery conservation.
Amazon’s Fire TV Game controller uses a proprietary connection protocol that utilizes a WiFi-direct connection to connect it to their streaming media devices. Amazon switched from using a standard Bluetooth connection with their 1st-generation game controller to using WiFi-direct because it reduced latency, which was crucial for the controller’s headphone jack, while increasing both range and battery life.
It’s likely that the complexity of continuing to support the proprietary WiFi-direct connection method has led to Amazon dropping support for the game controller on their newer Fire TV models. For a Fire TV device to connect to the game controller, the Fire TV must broadcast a WiFi connection. This has led to many confused customers wondering why their Fire TV was essentially appearing as a WiFi hotspot and showing up in their phone and PC WiFi connection settings.
All Fire TV models, including the Fire TV 3 and Fire TV Cube, still support standard Bluetooth game controllers. That includes controllers like the PlayStation DualShock 4, countless Android compatible controllers, and even the old 1st-generation Fire TV Game Controller, which has long been discontinued.
September and October are typically when Amazon releases new hardware, so perhaps we’ll see a new official Fire TV Game Controller released in the coming weeks. I wouldn’t bet on it though. Ever since the Fire TV 3 was released with a GPU that is far weaker than the one in the Fire TV 2 that it replaced, it has been evident that Amazon no longer sees gaming as a priority for their Fire TV lineup. The days of Amazon hosting a Fire TV gaming party at E3 are long gone. Dropping support for their own Fire TV Game Controller could be the final nail in the coffin for Fire TV gaming.