As we drift toward the holiday weekend, one of the more exciting pieces of news is that Tesla is going to put an entire AMD gaming rig in as an option for Tesla cars. This gaming option will be another reason to buy the autonomous driving technology from the company because playing a game without it could end up badly for both the driver and the passenger but, man, what a way to go.
Let’s talk about this impressive AMD design win this week and what it means for the future of automobiles.
Musk Be Crazy
Now there are many things Elon Musk does that are a bit over the top crazy but putting a gaming system in a car isn’t one of them. Of course, my immediate question is how we will update this system over time, so it will still play the latest games and were this anyone but Telsa, I’d be concluding this won’t end well.
But Tesla uniquely builds cars that can be upgraded, and they are pretty good at monetizing these upgrades suggesting there is a reasonable chance there will be an upgrade path for these cars. This system is initially slated for the new Model S Plaid with a race car, not a supercar, but race car performance.
Another reason this system may be upgradeable is because the Plaid S is the company’s most expensive car. Typically, this customer class isn’t one you want to piss off by obsolescing critical performance features without providing an upgrade.
This game system program doesn’t come without other risks; one is that they aren’t licensing the OS from Sony or Microsoft (which I think may turn out to be a mistake), creating game compatibility issues that folks spending well over a $100K for a car aren’t going to like, and will likely be vocal about their dislike. Game consoles are sold at or below cost, though, and while Sony’s culture will likely keep them from licensing to Telsa, Microsoft is a licensing company by nature. It might be far more willing, and a game-focused version of Windows 11 or the Xbox OS would provide the game compatibility out of the box, and both Windows 11 and the Xbox OS run on AMD.
This lack of a game-ready OS will probably be this system’s Achilles heel, but it isn’t an uncommon mistake made by new entries into this market. The good news is that given AMD is in most high-end gaming systems, it will be an excellent partner in figuring out how to do this in a way that meets Musk’s goals while still resulting in a serviceable offering.
Autonomous Car Future
This internal gaming implementation is just one way the coming wave of autonomous cars will be configured to entertain us. I’ve seen prototype big-screen TVs, Smart Window glass that can turn into displays and make it look like you are driving through the game you are playing, and the use of head-mounted displays and VR goggles to more cost-effectively do the same thing. This last may be better for those who don’t have or aren’t using autonomous systems if the passenger is playing because it will reduce the driver’s distraction. A tethered VR headset should work fine with the intended AMD-based gaming system.
These cars will be turned into rolling entertainment centers, and given they already have great sound systems, the result could have a lot of us prefer to play in the car even if that car is in the garage (in the car, no one can hear your game).
Wrapping Up: The Most Expensive Game Console
This car gaming concept is an incredibly excellent idea, and I’m sure you’ve seen kids on a long trip bringing their gaming system in the car and then trying to figure out how to hook up a monitor or TV to make it work.
Building it into the car will be awesome, and AMD is likely the best partner to getting this done right if Elon Musk listens to them and moves to an OS plan that is more likely to result in some top-level games. This gaming solution is also an early indication of the rolling gaming and entertainment platforms that cars are slowly evolving towards and the future of looking forward to traffic to play games and watch movies once we have decent level 3 autonomous driving.
The other car companies watch Tesla and Elon Musk suggesting that while Telsa may be the first to go this route, they won’t be the last—so I am looking forward to our car gaming future.