Tesla’s Holiday update brings Steam gaming to your car

tesla model s with steam running
(Image credit: Tesla)

Tesla has been hyping the gaming credentials of its most recent cars for some time, promising that the most recent Model S and Model X cars could function as their own gaming console. While little has happened so far, Tesla has finally reached a major milestone that considerably boosts the cars’ gaming credentials: support for Steam.

Steam support has been promised for a while now, but it was always unclear when it might actually arrive. The app is still in beta right now, but it's bundled as part of the Tesla holiday update — among other useful features

This means drivers of a 2022 model year (or newer) Model S or Model X have access to the Steam store to buy and install “thousands” of Steam games, and synchronize save files with the cloud — letting them continue their progress no matter the device.

There are some caveats, however. The main one is that the Model S and Model X are the two most expensive cars in Tesla’s line-up, and the only ones to come with the necessary gaming computer. It also requires your car to have 16GB of DDR RAM and an active Premium Connectivity subscription — which is $10 a month or $100 a year. You’ll need a controller for the car too, and while any Bluetooth controller should work, Tesla claims the PS5’s DualSense works best.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Tesla Steam appears to be running a version of Linux rather than any form of Windows. So you don’t quite have access to the full Steam library, only games that have been verified for Linux-based Steam Deck

That's still quite a lot when you think about it. Certainly compared to the smaller range of games Tesla has offered in the past, like Cuphead, The Witcher 3 and more casual arcade titles.

I’ve always felt that having long, story driven games running on your car is kind of pointless. The common argument is that it gives people something to do while they wait for their car to charge. There’s also an argument to be made for gaming from the backseats, since there’s a secondary entertainment display in the Model S and Model X. Anyone in the passenger seat is out of luck, since Tesla (rightly) disabled (opens in new tab) a rather stupid feature that let them game while the car was in motion.

Of course, up until now, any in-game progress you made inside the car would stay in the car. What good is getting 30 minutes into Cyberpunk 2077 and not being able to continue it on your home PC? Gaming in your car, even if it’s sitting on your driveway, isn’t exactly the most comfortable, or private, of experiences.

Which is why it’s especially important that Steam on Teslas has cloud synchronization. That way any progress you make isn’t going to waste. So no matter how much, or how little progress you make in the car, you’re able to pick up right where you left off when you get home.

Tesla’s Holiday update isn’t all about Steam, though, and there are extra features for people not rocking a brand new Model S or Model X. That includes brand new apps like Apple Music, Zoom, Mahjong and the ability to schedule a multi-car light show. 

More productive changes include the ability to view a car’s interior when it’s in Dog or Sentry mode, Track Mode for better closed track performance and control, and a bunch more. You can read all about them here (opens in new tab).

The update also comes with a setting that automatically deactivates turn signals after completing a lane change, fork or merge, which should prove very useful as well. Tesla's bizarre turn signal design, and the fact they don’t always click off when you need them to, is one of my biggest pet peeves about the cars.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.