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Video Games Are Coming To A Car Near You

Automakers think we need this ridiculousness.

Most normal people probably have absolutely no idea that a growing number of new cars have video games embedded in them. That very concept would likely make them laugh and rightly so. After all, it doesn’t really make sense to use your car as a gaming console, especially when your smartphone can play games and there are many handheld gaming systems available these days. Yet this is a trend on the rise.

These are the least romantic cars.

In the first Fast and Furious movie, one of the drivers involved in the first street race was playing a racing game in his car. Even back then, people were installing game consoles in their ride, but for the vast majority of the population it was something comical and silly. Nobody back then imagined automakers would decide to add such a feature as standard equipment.

But these days every vehicle comes with screens galore, including a huge central screen in the dash. That’s presented an opportunity to place games in the software since all the hardware is right there. And so your car is quickly evolving into an Xbox.

These games are different from the very simple ones offered for backseat passengers in the Chrysler Pacifica. Instead of catering to young kids, the racing, sports, action, and other games are more advanced and difficult. Plus, they’re displayed on the dash, so they’re designed for the driver and maybe one passenger to play while the car is parked.

Considering charging an electric car takes time, having an onboard game seems to be a way automakers try making the inconvenient experience more bearable. Some EV owners have tried claiming that sitting in their ride, playing a video game while the battery replenishes is much more entertaining than pumping gas for three minutes. Maybe it is, but most adults are busy and so a solution that’s quick yet not fun works.

Tesla was the first one to show off in-car gaming. At first the industry laughed. Then the idea slowly percolated into other automakers as they tried mimicking every aspect of the American startup’s success. European brands are jumping onboard with the trend, but it’s only a matter of time before it catches on with American and Asian companies.

S&P Global Mobility even published a blog post on the phenomenon recently, examining the current state of the trend and where it might be headed in the next few years. It points out that many companies are working on getting games in your future ride, with the possibilities on full display during CES 2023. Among the growing partnerships is one between Sony and Honda which might result in Epic Games’ Unreal Engine coming to your kid’s Civic one day. NVIDIA is working on a cloud-based solution with Hyundai, Polestar, and BYD. The list goes on.

There’s another factor driving this trend, also pointed out by S&P: money. That’s hardly shocking, but automakers lately have been gravitating to subscription services as additional streams of income. Convincing vehicle owners they need in-car games for a cool $9.99 a month is one way to do it.

Images via BMW, Mercedes-Benz

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