Gaming is transforming the automotive landscape


It’s no longer just about bringing the automotive world into games; it’s about bringing games into the automotive world. By George Bateman

There’s a long-standing history between automotive brands and video games. The first racing games launched in the 1970s, and now, contemporary racing games like Forza and Gran Turismo feature just about every vehicle make and model available. But today, that model is being flipped on its head. It’s no longer just about bringing the automotive world into games; it’s about bringing games into the automotive world.

The transition towards electric and autonomous vehicles has been a game-changer for the automotive entertainment industry. McKinsey reports that in-car entertainment, including movies, music and gaming, is expected to generate US$30-60bn in value by 2030.

BMW is working with the gaming platform AirConsole to offer in-car gaming for the driver and passengers while the vehicle is stationary

Electric vehicles have more power and computing resources, making it easier to support gaming systems. Car manufacturers are therefore positioning the next generation of vehicles as fully-fledged home theatres on wheels, with gaming as a core part of the experience. Tesla has already struck an exclusive partnership with Steam, integrating the platform’s extensive games library into its Model S and Model X vehicles in late 2022.

The automotive sector is unique in terms of the gaming experience it can offer. Vehicles can become multifunctional spaces, serving as both transportation and entertainment hubs. They can have programmable lighting, under-seat rumblers and more to fully immerse players within a game’s environment. And, with the volume of cars on the roads, vehicles can now act as a new distribution model for game publishers.

Of course, there is a catch. Safety is imperative, and vehicle gaming features must be designed to prevent driver distraction. That means potentially disabling certain gaming functions while the vehicle is in motion or limiting them to passenger use only. Furthermore, integrating gaming systems in this environment requires not just software compatibility but also considerations of hardware performance, such as CPU loads, power consumption, and heat dissipation.

However, these challenges aside, the opportunity for automotive brands is significant. Games offer instant access to a vast, highly engaged and diverse audience, and increasing a brand’s visibility within this community can drive long-term loyalty. Bringing gaming into the in-car experience can also influence consumer perceptions, positioning the automotive brand at the forefront of innovation and technology and thus appealing to younger and more affluent demographics.

The transition towards electric and autonomous vehicles has been a game-changer for the automotive entertainment industry

Despite these possibilities, car brands have thus far been hesitant to recognise the immense potential of the gaming community. As the likes of Tesla race ahead, brands slow off the starting grid will quickly fall behind.

It’s not all about integrating gaming into in-car entertainment systems; automotive brands can engage with this community through sponsorships and industry events, in-game advertising, and partnerships with video game influencers. Porsche is heavily involved with esports, and Mini has dipped its toe in the water by attending the trade fair Gamescom for two years running. Brands can also partner with existing game companies on innovative campaigns, as Oreo did with its ‘Cheat Cookies’. Buyers could use the limited edition cookies to create Xbox cheat codes and unlock exclusive in-game content.

The automotive industry just needs to be wary of authenticity—partnerships can’t be seen as a cash grab. The gaming community is vast, highly invested and full of opportunity, but only if brands are able to push the right buttons.


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

By George Bateman, Business Director, Experience12

The AutomotiveWorld.com Comment column is open to automotive industry decision makers and influencers. If you would like to contribute a Comment article, please contact editorial@automotiveworld.com



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