Tesla asked devs for games to put in their cars; offered nothing

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Immortality director Sam Barlow said that Tesla once approached him about adding his game Her Story to the library of in-car games. Their offer? “Exposure.” Needless to say, the deal did not push through.

While Tesla cars are known for their poor software UI controls, manufacturing defects, spontaneously catching fire and oh yeah, being a legit gaming device, the company apparently wasn’t interested in paying the barest amount of money for licensing or engineering to put indie games on their disaster carriages.

“Tesla once reached out to ask to put Her Story in a car,” Barlow tweeted. “I asked how much they would pay for the license and to cover the engineering working—they suggested zero, that I should consider the exposure I would get.”

The premise of being paid in exposure supposes that a creator would forgo real world monies because the potential of having their work brought to a larger audience would pay future dividends. The catch though is it doesn’t guarantee anything. You can’t pay your electric bills today with exposure rewards that may not arrive tomorrow.

In general, most experienced creatives, whether they’re artists, writers, filmmakers, game developers or anything else, will tell you that exposure is usually a way to trick someone out of the rewards they deserve for their work, the fruits of their labors. Tesla is a trillion-dollar company, they can afford to pay what developers deserve.

Tesla games
This image from the Sacramento, CA Fire District features a Tesla Model S that spontaneously erupted in a blaze while having sat in a wrecking yard for weeks.

Untitled Goose Game was another game that received a similar offer. Cabel Sasser, co-founder of Panic Inc., which published the chaotic puzzle adventure. He simply tweeted, “Same re: Goose” in reply to Barlow’s tweet. I think it’s safe to assume that this exposure offer was made to other independent devs for their games.

This is to say nothing of the absurd notion of playing any game, let alone these games on your Tesla. The platform acquired infamy for being able to run Cyberpunk 2077, but I don’t know if anyone wants to play an absorbing FMV mystery, flipping between video clips to uncover the truth about a young widow and her murdered husband.

Meanwhile, Game Pass, a platform with a subscriber count far in excess of the number of people who own Teslas, pays devs for games. It’s debatable whether deals offered are fair to publishers (the offers are negotiated on a case by case basis), but the fact remains that Microsoft pays, and the potential exposure is far greater than anything Tesla can offer.