With its latest “Acceleration Boost,” Tesla is starting to sell features through software updates, sort of like “DLCs for cars,” and apparently, more are coming.
DLC stands for “Downloadable Content” and it is generally used to refer to additional content created for an already released video game.
It is a controversial strategy that video game makers have adopted en masse to make more money in recent years.
Tesla has been dabbling in selling software features in its cars for years with Autopilot, but it was a different situation.
With Autopilot, Tesla’s logic was very clear: they want to put all the needed hardware in every car in order to deliver all the active safety features that they can enable for free and finance that through selling convenience features powered by the same hardware — ultimately leading to full autonomy.
Owners can order the convenience features before delivery or download it later for a fee, not unlike DLCs.
Bu Tesla is now going deeper into the DLC approach, starting with the new $2,000 “Acceleration Boost,” which is a downloadable upgrade that can make Model 3 Dual Motor vehicles 0.5 second faster from 0 to 60 mph.
More of those types of downloadable upgrades are apparently coming.
Green, a Tesla hacker who has great insights into the automaker’s software, says that he saw hints at other downloadable content coming for Model 3 in the code of recent updates:
not yet. But I know about BASE_PLUS_AWD and some other model 3 thingies all of a sudden, DLCs for cars are about to get a lot more real and blow holes in so many pockets? 😉
— green (@greentheonly) December 20, 2019
He didn’t go into details, but he believes those will be paid upgrades like the Acceleration Boost.
The comparison to DLCs also stems from the fact that Tesla is looking to add more actual video game content to its vehicles.
Recently, CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla is working to integrate more video games inside its cars, and it is adding the Unity and Unreal game engines.
The CEO talked about enabling people to download packs of video games to play in their vehicles.
Last night, Musk said that Stardew Valley and Lost Backgammon are soon coming to Tesla Arcade.
The move to start charging for new software-enabled features also comes after Tesla announced its plan to start charging $10 per month for “premium connectivity” features.
I feel like this might end up being a controversial move, because Tesla owners have been used to the automaker releasing new software features for free.
It has become one of Tesla’s best advantages; the cars get better over time.
But I don’t think that’s going away.
I think Tesla is more going to take the Apple approach — meaning that they are going to keep releasing software updates improving the overall UI and adding some features, but there are also going to be paid features à la App Store.
Obviously, if Tesla keeps adding video games to Tesla Arcade,” it would make sense to charge for them, and like Apple with the App Store, Tesla could split the revenue with the developers.
When it comes to actual features from Tesla, though, that’s where things get trickier.
I could see a few things working. For example, Tesla could keep the current version of Sentry Mode/TeslaCam for free and release a “Sentry Mode Plus” version that can directly upload your videos to your Tesla account so they can be viewed easily through a browser without disconnecting a flash drive.
I am sure there are a few different premium features that Tesla could release like that.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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