Casual local multiplayer games coming to BMW cars next year
Perspective: With a new entertainment feature, groups stuck waiting in certain BMWs will soon have another way to spend time together. At first glance, the AirConsole platform seems like another way to deliver mobile games, but it can be an interesting comparison to other gaming platforms.
Next year, BMW vehicles with the latest iDrive infotainment system will receive access to casual local multiplayer games via AirConsole. Passengers can control games on the car console screen from their smartphones.
The AirConsole service offers a selection of nearly 200 mobile-like casual games that users can play via the browser, Android TV, Google TV, Amazon Fire TV, or soon BMW iDrive. When AirConsole games are launched on the screen, they offer a QR code that users scan with their smartphones to turn the phones into controllers. Subscriptions start at $2 per month, or customers can play for free with ads.
Requiring smartphones for AirConsole seems burdensome. However, using phones as controllers allows users to play local multiplayer games on the same screen, offering co-op co-op while waiting in the car.
The only way to get a similar experience is to use the Nintendo Switch with the Joy-Cons disabled and the screen attached to the inside of the car. Perhaps playing Mario Kart is preferable to a fake clone. However, an AirConsole subscription is likely cheaper than a Switch with a game if all passengers already have mobile devices.
Last year, BMW introduced its iDrive 8 system, which combines the instrument cluster display and touchscreen in one 200ppi curved display. AirConsole will be another feature added to the infotainment system in 2023.
Car companies are offering various new options to keep passengers entertained on long journeys, some of which are aimed at luxury customers. The 2023 BMW i7 xDrive 60, which goes on sale later this year and starts at $120,295, features a 31-inch 8K screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV for rear-seat passengers to enjoy home theater. Tesla vehicles have been offering video games in their infotainment systems for some time now, and Elon Musk is promising Steam integration is just around the corner.