BMW Needs New In-Car Games, Launches Developer Competition With AirConsole

Of the bunch of German premium carmakers we know and love, BMW was the first to announce a concentrated effort of providing in-car gaming to its customers. It did so late last year, when it made public a partnership with game streaming and cloud platform AirConsole.

That would be a German crew born in Germany in 2015. Far from being the supplier of full-blown video games only dedicated platforms can offer, AirConsole presently has a catalog of some 190 titles, offering anything from puzzles and quizzes to racing and sports. Most importantly, these games are all cloud-based, meaning you can play them on pretty much anything, from your computer’s browser to the living room’s smart TVs.

In BMWs, these games will run on the cars’ central displays, and they’ll be controlled by means of the players’ smartphones.

But there is one problem with the games currently offered by AirConsole: none of them have been specifically designed for use in a vehicle. So this week, the Bavarian carmaker and its gaming partner announced the start of a competition dedicated to cloud game developers.

The competition opens today, March 9, and runs until June 8. The requirements are simple and leave room for all sorts of ideas to make it through: any genre is accepted, as long as the game experience is “compelling,” the gameplay must be accessible, and the controller smartphone must play a central and creative part of the game.

BMW in\-car gaming

Photo: BMW

At the end of the competition, BMW and AirConsole will select the best four submissions, and fund them with 5,000 euros (almost $5,300) to develop a prototype. Any and all of these four can eventually be funded into becoming fully-fledged games and integrated into the AirConsole offering. And, the cherry on the cake, the developers of the winning games will be sent on a trip to BMW’s HQ in Munich to see their product in action.

If you plan on taking part, here’s where you can sign up. Separately, BMW will pitch the competition to developers in-person starting March 20 at the Game Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.

So, like it or not, in-car gaming is here. Don’t go hoping that you will be able to play them while the car is on the move, though, as BMW (and most others) allow this to happen only when the car is stationary. But that should be enough, especially if the car is an EV that needs to sit plugged in for tens of minutes at a time.

As for AirConsole, you can, of course, play some of the existing games for free, but if you want the full experience, there’s a subscription to be had. If you want it billed annually, it’ll cost you $17.99 per year ($1.49 per month). If you go for monthly bills of $4.99, the yearly total rises to $59.88.