Tesla wanted to put Her Story in its cars but would only pay for it with 'exposure'

Her Story screen
(Image credit: Sam Barlow)
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Her Story (opens in new tab) creator Sam Barlow recently revealed on Twitter that Tesla once approached him about adding the game to its library of in-car games. The deal never happened, though, because Tesla didn't want to pay for it with anything but "exposure."

Tesla's cars are notable for a few things, including catching fire, causing accidents, and being a literal game platform. And a reasonably powerful one, too, that's apparently capable of playing relatively new, demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in new tab). But like other platforms, getting games onto it requires a license with the creator, which is where Barlow's story comes into play.

"Tesla once reached out to ask to put Her Story in a car," Barlow tweeted (opens in new tab). "I asked how much they would pay for the license and to cover the engineering working—they suggested zero, that I should consider the exposure I would get."

The idea of exposure in this context is that creators will forgo money in favor of bringing their work to a larger audience, and thus a larger pool of potential paying customers, than they'd otherwise reach. It's basically a way for someone to get free work, and generally not considered a good idea: The Oatmeal did a famous comic (opens in new tab) on the obvious pitfalls of exposure, and there's a Twitter account (opens in new tab) dedicated to ridiculing its folly as well.

Predictably, many of the responses to Barlow's tweet are very much on point:

(Image credit: Twitter)

(Image credit: Twitter)
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And it turns out that Barlow wasn't alone in this experience with Tesla. A developer who worked on Untitled Goose Game (opens in new tab) said in one-word reply that Tesla had come to them with the same offer.

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Exposure is pretty useless all around—you can't buy food or pay rent with it—but it's even more useless to Barlow than it is for most because Her Story is a genuine indie hit. (He's done quite well since then without the Tesla exposure too, with Her Story followups Telling Lies and Immortality both earning critical acclaim.) And aside from that, the idea of putting Her Story in Teslas is pretty dumb right from the hop. I'm sure it's great being able to blow a few minutes on a momentary distraction while you're waiting for someone in the parking lot, something you can easily jump in and out of, but does anyone really want to play an intense piece of investigative interactive fiction that way? I suspect not.

Barlow had some thoughts on that, too.

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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.