If you're an artist of any kind, you'll know the pain of being offered payment in "exposure". You can't feed yourself or your family with exposure, right? Still, according to Her Story developer Sam Barlow, that's how Tesla offered to pay him for incorporating the FMV adventure game into a range of its cars, and it seems he isn't alone.
According to Barlow on Twitter, Tesla "reached out" to him to ask if he could help them to put Her Story "in a car". Presumably, he means Tesla wanted to build the game into its cars' dashboards, which strikes me as pretty irresponsible, but there we go. When Barlow asked Tesla how much they'd pay to license the game and to cover engineering work, he got the answer you've almost certainly had before if you've ever asked to be paid for your work as a freelancer.
Naturally, that response was "zero", according to Barlow. He says Tesla asked him to "consider the exposure" he would get from including Her Story in the software of Tesla dashboards. Considering Her Story has been showered in various awards, it's hard to believe Barlow would need that exposure, so either Tesla didn't know that or this exchange took place prior to Her Story's critical acclaim. Barlow doesn't provide a timeline, so it's hard to judge.
That's not all, though. Untitled Goose Game, a similarly successful and warmly-regarded indie darling, was apparently also considered for inclusion within Tesla dashboards. Cabel Sasser, co-founder of Goose publisher Panic, took to Twitter to commiserate with Barlow, stating that he was also approached by Tesla. His tweet simply reads "same re: Goose", so I guess he was also offered exposure by Tesla.
Tesla and games: a contentious partnership
Her Story and Goose aren't the first games to come to the Tesla "platform". Back in 2019, Tesla boss Elon Musk and Bethesda announced Fallout Shelter would come to Tesla vehicles, which it subsequently did in 2020. Other Tesla games include Stardew Valley and Cuphead, and we've reached out to the developers of both to ask whether Tesla offered to pay them in "exposure" for their efforts as well.
As you might imagine, this decision hasn't been without controversy. Back in late 2021, Tesla agreed to modify its cars' software (note: article behind paywall) to prevent passengers and drivers from playing games on the dashboard, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Let's just be thankful Musk didn't manage to get his Mario Kart Tesla version in the end. I can only imagine that would have ended in disaster.
Tesla's reach is being felt all over the industry right now thanks to Musk's purchase of Twitter, which was concluded a few days ago. Industry analyst Nibel subsequently announced he was quitting Twitter, and while Musk's acquisition wasn't the only factor in that decision, it was a factor nonetheless; Nibel criticized Musk's "infinite immaturity" and said he does not "trust" Twitter or its leadership. We'll bring you more on Musk, Tesla, and their involvement in gaming as soon as we get it.