Steam, the PC gaming platform, is making its way across town as part of Tesla’s latest holiday update. It fulfills a promise Tesla CEO Elon Musk made almost two years ago: that you can play The witcher 3 using the car’s built-in hardware. But unfortunately for me I won’t be able to play it, and it doesn’t look like there will be an easy path to an upgrade.
I have a 2018 Tesla Model 3 and I think I should mention that it has received many upgrades over the years, including a revised UI, Autopilot visualisations, streaming apps and arcade games. But in my car, all of Tesla’s fancy new software runs on the Intel Atom – a processor designed for budget netbooks from the previous decade (remember the Eee PC?). So it’s no surprise that my Model 3 can’t play Steam games, but I’d still like to.
However, PC game support from Steam is reserved for the latest Model S and X vehicles, which cost about twice if not more than what I paid for my 3 (even with the latest discounts).
And we’re only talking about the latest 2022 models, as redesigned S and X vehicles from 2021 and early 2022 include the “PS5 level” graphics chips based on AMD RDNA2, but lack the necessary 16 GB of RAM possess.
Owners of those models may not be totally screwed, as Musk confirmed on Twitter a retrofit will be offered.
Tesla’s 2022 holiday update, as we see every year, adds tons of cool new features for my Model 3 to take advantage of. The automaker Uploaded a new video this week easter eggs, such as always-on rainbow road graphics for Autopilot, emphasize the ability to monitor your pet remotely while in dog mode, and finally play Apple Music directly in the car (thanks, Tim Cook?).
Of course the holiday update is part of it a brand new light show for the holiday season that may be a time with other Teslas. I also appreciate that Tesla has brought back the swipeable cards that conveniently display trip information and tire pressure – which were removed with last year’s introduction software version 11among other things, head-scratchers like removing seat heater knobs from the bottom bar.
The video too contains some technical details about what it takes for games like Cyberpunk 2077 run at high graphics settings in a Tesla. It uses a Linux virtual machine, Steam Deck verified games, and of course GPU acceleration from hardware I could only dream of having in my car.
Interestingly, Model 3 and Y vehicles that shipped around this time last year also received a number of upgrades, including new infotainment computers running on AMD Ryzen chips. The new hardware, known in Tesla community circles as MCU3, shows improved performance throughout the OS – but unfortunately they don’t come with discrete graphics needed to run many resource-heavy games offered on Steam.
There is also no official word whether older cars with the Intel-based MCU2 (like mine) could get a retrofit, which would be great since apps I can run, like Netflix and the web browser, feel increasingly sluggish these days.
Support for the more powerful AMD chipset could even be possible the new lithium-based 12V battery that will come in the newer Model 3 and Y, said the founder of Tesla owners online, a Tesla forum. And to make matters worse, the ability to make in-car calls via Zoom could not even coming to the Intel Atom based Teslas.
So it’s time for me to just accept it: I can only play games like Stardew Valley, Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), and Cup head in my Model 3 on road trips (not while driving, to be clear), unless I’m packing a real Steam Deck or gaming laptop. Another option could come through this unofficial Xbox cloud gaming solutionbut it’s not perfect.
While the update didn’t get me Steam, it at least got me Apple Music – so I no longer have to pay for Spotify to listen to music directly on my sluggish Intel Atom-powered display.