Owning a Tesla is not just about owning a car; it’s like buying a full-fledged gaming console that allows you to play tons of games on-the-go. But gaming in Tesla is not so straight-forward. If you own a Model S or X, you can experience thousands of games, thanks to Tesla’s recent Steam integration. However, what about the other models? And is gaming in Tesla really safe?
To answer all such pressing questions, we thought of researching on it, and here’s what we found:
How Gaming in Tesla has Evolved?
Gaming in Tesla is one of its most loved perks of owning the vehicle. So, a little bit of history into how far along Tesla has come with gamifying the experience is worth mentioning.
All Tesla models come with a built in Arcade app since it was first launched in 2019. But Tesla offered retro Atari games even before that. It used to release them through an Easter egg to the TeslAtari updates.
You could play '70s and '80s Atari games such as Missile Command, Asteroids, Lunar Lander and Centipede. But due to copyrights and licensing issues, some of these games were removed.
Soon after, Tesla launched its own Arcade App.
Since then, more and more games have been added to the Arcade to provide owners a complete suite of entertainment, including Cuphead, Beach Buggy Racing 2 & Battle of Polytopia..
Also, since December, 2022, select Model S and X have been given access to Steam that makes 6000+ games available for you to download.
How to Access the Arcade in Your Tesla?
All Tesla model owners can access the Arcade from the Entertainment tab on their touchscreen displays.
Some games such as Beach Buggy Racing 2 can be played using the on-screen controls, as well as the steering wheel or yoke. But others need gaming controllers like the ones Jowua offers, but we’ll talk about that a little later.
First let’s look at the games you can play in your Tesla.
What Enables Steam on Tesla Model S and X?
Since December 2022, Tesla’s Steam partnership has been launched on Model S and X released in 2022 or later. However, Elon Musk’s reply to a tweet confirmed that the older Model S and X will be retrofitted to make Steam integration possible on them.
Yes— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 14, 2022
Tesla runs a Linux-based Steam version similar to that on Steam Deck but not the Windows version.
Some of the requirements for Steam include:
- 16GB DDR RAM
- AMD Ryzen processor
- A discrete AMD's RDNA 2 GPU i.e. the same one as PS5. It enables up to 10 teraflops of computing power when more graphic-intensive Steam games are played
- Premium Steam Connectivity costing $9.99 per month
How To Play Steam Games On Tesla?
Playing Steam games on Tesla gets pretty straight-forward if you follow the below steps:
1. Get Steam Beta App:
First things first, you need the Steam Beta app on your Tesla Model S and X to play Steam games. So once you have downloaded the Holiday Update released on December 13th, 2022, if you own the 2022+ models, you will see the Steam Beta app in your arcade section.
All you need to do is tap the Application Launcher on the front screen and then select Arcade. Steam gaming is not available on the rear screen, but you can still stream movies on it.
2. Sync your games:
Next, you need to sync your previously played games in your Tesla through Steam’s cloud synchronization. This is a great feature for gamers who love to have their gaming progress synced across all their devices and one of the many features that require the premium connectivity subscription. However, if you don’t have Steam on any other device, you can start fresh on your Tesla.
3. Download the game you want to play:
The most obvious step now is to download the game you want to play. It needs to be stored locally on your Tesla. Now this is where the tricky part comes in.
As per Model X owner’s manual, 64GB of internal storage needs to be reserved for DashCam, while only the remaining is available for Steam and other purposes. This is about 80 to 100 GB.
But any large game such as Cyberpunk 2077 or Hogwarts Legacy requires anywhere between 70 to 90 GB easily. So, either you download only one game at a time, or you use an external 1TB SSD to expand the gaming partition and download all your favorite games in your car.
Recognizing the limited storage space, Jowua has developed a 1TB SSD to enable uninterrupted Steam gaming, allowing multiple games to be stored simultaneously.
Jowua SSD allows super fast 10GBps data transfers, allowing you an immersive gaming in Tesla experience. Also, the triple-heat-dissipation system keeps the drive cool and withstand very high cabin temperatures ranging from -40°F to 185°F (-40°C to 85°C).
Further, you get the Jowua SSD for a fraction of a cost compared to the Tesla SSD, making it the ideal Tesla gaming accessory.
4. Grab your controllers:
Once your game is downloaded, all you need is a fantastic gaming controller and get gaming!
While you can play several games using the touchscreen controls or the driving wheel, gaming controllers are the most intuitive way of tackling those really hard-to-kill enemies and getting out of tight spots.
Therefore, we recommend the Jowua Multi-Device Wireless Gaming Controllers.
Not only do these pair with your Tesla, but these also work on almost any gaming device, including Xbox, PS5, and Nintendo Switch. And on top of that, after the latest 2023.26 update, you can even pair them directly via Bluetooth, without using the provided transmitters.
To pair directly via Bluetooth, you will have to toggle the mode switch to ‘X’ and select the Xbox controller on your Tesla screen.
Check out the video below to find out the exact paring settings.
Why Tesla Model 3 and Y Can’t Run Steam?
Even though Model 3 and Y come with the most recent AMD Ryzen processor, the lack of a discrete GPU prevents the cars from running Steam games. So, it is unlikely that even MCU3 Model 3 and Y will get Steam Integration going forward. Which also means that older MCU cars will not get it either.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t play other games on your Model 3 and Y.
Which Games can You Play on Model 3 and Y?
Tesla continuously updates its Arcade collection from time to time.
While some arcade games are staple and go as far back as the arcade release date, newer games get airdropped all the time. For example, Game of Peace was recently added to the arcade for Model 3, in addition to PUBG Mobile.
Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai received a mysteries package at midnight. It was airdropped right in front of our door. Want to know what surprise it held inside? Find out in Game of Peace. Explore Giga Shanghai’s Model 3 and have fun! pic.twitter.com/fCHX5MU9Qy— Tesla Asia (@Tesla_Asia) July 20, 2020
A few months back, Tesla also added Vampire Survivors to the arcade through the 2023.26.1 update.
Apart from the newer additions, Beach Buggy Racing 2, Cat Quest, Cuphead, Sky Force Reloaded, and Super Breakout are some most popular games on Model 3 and Y.
You can even play multiplayer games using 4 Jowua controllers simultaneously!
Video evidence of 4 player gaming with our controllers. It can be done! pic.twitter.com/RQpX1J5LaK— Jowua (@JowuaLife) August 8, 2023
Is Gaming in Tesla Safe?
Initially, Tesla only allowed gaming while the car was parked, however, in 2020 “Passenger Play” was introduced. It allowed passengers to game even in the moving vehicle. When Tesla owners filed a complaint against it, NHTSA opened an enquiry on Tesla.
NHTSA claimed that even though only passengers were allowed to play games in a moving vehicle, the driver could easily bypass the verification process. And even if he didn’t, on-screen gaming by passengers would distract the driver while driving, increasing crash risks.
Thus Tesla rolled back its vehicles and provided software updates. So as of May 2023, Tesla has disabled “Passenger Play” while the car is moving. Post which, after its own investigation that ensured that video games would not be visible while the car is moving, NHTSA cleared Tesla and closed the enquiry, when 97% of the vehicles were reported to have updated their vehicles.
Tesla even explained that gaming on Tesla is not meant for while the car is moving, but only for passing time while the vehicle charges.
So, gaming in Tesla is completely safe as long as you have the update that disables Passenger Play and you don’t game in a moving vehicle.