Electric vehicles are charging faster and faster, with the best EVs capable of recharging 10-80 percent of their state of charge (SOC) in just 30 minutes. That might seem long compared to fuel fill ups but if you take a quick bathroom break, grab a coffee, and check your emails for a few minutes, you’re back on the road. However, BMW wants to give you another option to pass the time in its all-new electric i5 sedan, one that my generation can very much get behind—gaming.
BMW partnered with AirConsole to provide a full-on gaming experience from the front seats of the new BMW i5. In a nutshell, the iDrive 8.5 screen turns into your gaming monitor and your mobile phone(s) becomes the controller. You can play with as many people as the car will fit and there are a 15 games to choose from, including Golazo (a soccer game), Go Kart Go (a racing game), and Music Guess, just to name a few.
Here’s how it works. You can either download the AirConsole app for both your smartphone and BMW i5 or you can use the built-in browser. Launch the AirConsole app in the iDrive screen, which will them show a QR code that you’ll scan with your phone, to sync it as a controller (and do that for as many players necessary). AirConsole said they didn’t want touchscreen controls on their in-car games because it’s tough to play a multi player game if people are sharing the screen.
Obviously, the game will only work if the car is stationary, so as to not allow any reckless drivers from trying to game and drive. If the car starts to drive while the game is underway, it automatically saves your session and turns it off.
BMW i5 Gaming Mode
While you might want a 5G connection for the car, if you’re in an area where service is spotty, you’ll still be able to game. Each game is downloaded and cached by the cloud, so it’s supposed to run smoothly even in areas with very low data connection.
We had the chance to actually test the new gaming mode out in a BMW i5. In honor of the introduction of in-car gaming, BMW unveiled a special edition BMW i5 adorned with a distinctive gaming wrap. The design represents an immersive journey into the world of gaming, capturing the essence of individual pixels. Paying tribute to the beloved 8-bit era of computer games, the design prominently features large pixels. The chosen color palette draws inspiration from the diverse array of games offered on the AirConsole platform. The wrap also cleverly incorporates elements of video game controllers, wrapping them around the i5’s exterior.
BMW let us try two different games, Music Guess and Golazo. The former is pretty self explanatory, the car plays a tune, you gotta guess it. Easy peasy. The latter was more in-depth, though, as it was an actual soccer game. In Golazo, you can either play multiplayer, with the people in the car, or against bots.
During our testing session, we didn’t have a great data connection but the cloud-based cache worked well and we never saw any issues. We suspect that in the future, BMW even can make it work with the interior ambient lighting. For instance, in Golazo, the Interaction Bar (that illuminated bit of trim on the BMW i5) could light up certain colors when a goal is scored.
The rumor is that BMW and AirConsole are also testing the gaming mode on the massive Theater Screen of the BMW 7 Series. We saw an i7 shuttle car which had a beta version of the gaming mode. Once that roll-out happens, the theater screen will offer a far better experience. Since the it’s so wide, at 31-inches, it can likely accommodate a split-screen setup with ease, giving both rear passengers some visual breathing room. With the theater screen, it would also be possible to use in motion, as it would be limited to only the rear passengers. Though, while stationary, it could allow front and rear passengers to game simultaneously on their own screens.
But of course, BMW has yet to confirm this so we’ll have to wait and see what the future brings.
Who’s This For?
This might sound gimmicky but customers will likely love it. Not only does it give them something to do while charging the car, especially if they have to charge it from nearly flat to full, but it can be incredibly fun for families. Let’s say a parent needs to take their kid to a soccer or football game but it’s raining. The parent can sit in the car and play a game while they weight. Or, on long road trips, kids can be entertained for hours while the parents enjoy the lack of baffling questions.
BMW says that all models equipped with either iDrive 8.5 or iDrive 9 will get the gaming mode update via over-the-air updates. But there is no timeline when that will happen.
BMW i5 Gaming Livery