Party Mode: Elon Musk Talks Up Atari In-Car Games—and Profitability


Tesla Model 3

They love him; they love him. Elon Musk’s backers on Wall Street, and well-wishers across the technology industry, have more reasons to have faith after this week’s conference call to discuss second quarter earnings.

Not only did a more contrite Musk apologize to analysts (after disparaging them in a rant on a call in May), he reassured Wall Street that the trailblazing electric-vehicle maker would achieve profitability this year as Tesla continues to churn out Model 3 EVs at a clip of more than 5,000 vehicles a week.

Always trying to tantalize investors and consumers, Musk continues to advance the future of the car and the use of technology in ways that only he could dream up.

He promised this week that “some of the best” Atari games will soon be playable in Tesla cars as part of a version 9.0 software update with “Party Mode” coming in about a month. Missile Command, Pole Position and Tempest are just a few of the games coming to Tesla “drivers”—who presumably will be either parked, or relying on Tesla’s Autopilot autonomous driving system, while they’re shooting down baddies.

As Musk tweeted, “We’re adding a “party & camper mode” soon to S/3/X, so your car can maintain air flow, temp, selective lights, music & power devices for 48 hours or more while parked. Big batteries rock.”  He also announced a partnership with Atari this week: “Some of the best classic Atari games coming as Easter Eggs in Tesla V9.0 release in about 4 weeks. Thanks Atari!”

He also confirmed which classic Atari games interest him:

Tesla x Atari games

Putting out a call for game developers on his Twitter feed, Musk followed up: “If you’re into video game development, consider applying to Tesla. We want to make super fun games that integrate the center touch screen, phone and car irl (in real life).”

Musk certainly wasn’t in party mode as he had to detail for analysts why Tesla more than doubled its loss in the second quarter—and has generated red ink for seven consecutive quarters—as it has ramped up production of the Model 3, its long-range, moderately-priced sedan that many still see as the prototype for a new era of automotive transportation. Model 3 has evolved into a higher-priced proposition than Musk originally proposed: a car that would be mainstream-priced in the low $30,000s after U.S. federal and state rebates for electric propulsion.

Musk also revealed that Tesla plans to spend $2 billion to construct its first China factory, in Shanghai, which could begin producing vehicles by 2021.

The automaker, meanwhile, has shed about 9% of its workforce as ramping up Model 3 production squeezed its cash. Many investors believe that the company still needs an infusion of cash, though Musk continued to insist this week that the company doesn’t need an emergency cash infusion from a new issuance of stock or any other source.

“Are we running low on money? The answer is no,” Musk said on this week’s earnings call, in a wanly combative point that paled in comparison to his stroppiness on his last chat with the financial analysts who follow the company. Investors were quick to bid up Tesla after Musk assured analysts this week that the company is on the path to growth.

“It took 15 years to execute our initial goal to produce an affordable, long-range electric vehicle that can also be highly profitable,” Musk earlier told shareholders in a letter. “In the second half of 2018, we expect, for the first time in our history, to become both sustainably profitable and cash-flow positive.” If he pulls it off, expect a super-party mode on at Tesla HQ in the 4th quarter.