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Why Is Tesla So Interested In Gaming?

Play a Steam game while the car drives for you.

Tesla games on Model S Plaid

It’s no secret that Tesla vehicles are unique and have a lot to offer, but lately, we’ve seen the company put a lot of work towards video games and entertainment inside its vehicles. The goal is to “optimize fun” for owners, which still leaves us wondering why Tesla is so interested in gaming.

Select car models have a Tesla Arcade full of games to access, and some people even connect wired game controllers to improve the experience. We’ve seen Tesla add PS5-level graphics to its latest cars, enable (then quickly disable) the ability for passengers to play games while the vehicle is moving, and now it looks like support for Bluetooth game controllers is on the way.

One could argue that the company should be putting more effort into its Full Self-Driving software instead of gaming, but both things are essential for the overall goal of autonomous driving in the future. Tesla wants to keep owners entertained while the car drives itself or while sitting around waiting for the battery to recharge.

Update, 12/14/22: Tesla just released a massive update that added Steam to select cars, and BT controller support, giving owners access to thousands of high-quality games. That’s in addition to the popular game Mahjong, making a Zoom call from the car, and much more.

Gaming at the Supercharger

A photo of the Tesla Supercharger.

While no one knows what happens in Elon Musk’s head, one of the biggest reasons the company likely added an arcade and Steam support is to pass the time while charging. Tesla’s Supercharger stations can recharge a vehicle’s battery up to 80% in about 40 minutes. Obviously, that’s a lot longer than your typical stop at a gas station.

Tesla understands that switching from gas to electric has both advantages and disadvantages. One big disadvantage is the wait to recharge the battery. No one wants to sit around for 30-45 minutes at the back corner of a gas station waiting for their Tesla to be ready to go, and gaming is an easy way to pass the time.

Taking advantage of the large infotainment display inside Tesla vehicles makes sense, so fire up a game while you’re bored waiting for juice. The company is doing a good job adding fun quirks like karaoke to its vehicles, even if it doesn’t come right out and say it’s to distract owners from charging speeds.

Plus, video games are fun. In 2019, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said video games are one of, if not the biggest reason, he got into tech. It’s a passion he wants to share with others.

Stay Busy When Cars Are Autonomous

Tesla wireless game controller

Slow charging times aside, the biggest reason Tesla is interested in gaming is to help achieve its overall goal. That goal is to have vehicles ultimately drive themselves. Then, once they do, cars will need to keep us entertained and deliver a great experience. Several factors go into such a feat. As a result, Tesla is busy improving its full self-driving software, hiring game developers, and developing AI software to reach its goals as fast as possible.

And with a new HD radar system for FSD rumored to arrive in early 2023, gaming could be important to Tesla’s goals. In 2020, Tesla clarified why gaming is important to the company. CEO Elon Musk said, “Entertainment will be critical when cars drive themselves.”

Once the company achieves autonomous driving, drivers and passengers won’t have anything to do during a morning commute or road trip. So, Tesla wants to ensure that once FSD is ready, vehicle owners can play video games, sing karaoke, join Zoom calls for meetings, or do anything else you can imagine.

In an autonomous world, anything is possible. So Tesla aims to hopefully offer an excellent and entertaining experience while we’re all sitting in a vehicle that ultimately drives itself. Well, if that ever happens.

Only Elon Knows

Elon Musk is a busy dude full of ideas, plans, promises, and more. From autonomous self-driving cars, underground tunnelsSpaceX rockets, Robo-taxis, electric Semi truckssolar roofs, running Twitter, and vehicles that could pay themselves off as autonomous Uber’s while you’re at home sleeping.

Maybe Tesla added video games to its vehicles for no other reason than because it could. Elon Musk built a flamethrower for fun, so who knows why the tech billionaire does what he does. Anyone with a capable Model S or Model X just got a PS5-level gaming rig added to their car with Steam gaming, and that’s pretty cool.

Either way, I’m hopeful that one day I can play Half-Life 3 (or at least Crysis 4) in my fully autonomous Tesla while sitting behind a retracted steering wheel I don’t have to touch.

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »