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For many, car-themed video games are the first titles that spring to mind. Cars featured in popular titles car surge in sales as a result of video game exposure. Some cars find themselves in title after title. Legendary brands like Ferarri and Porsche make frequent appearances. But which car has appeared in the most titles?

The intricate relationship between the automotive and video game industries

A row of video game driving simulators
Driving simulators | Michael Gottschalk via Getty Images

The development and release of Need for Speed in 1994 changed the relationship between the products and entertainment sectors. Never before have designers of physical products been so closely involved with game designers. Recreating the look, handling, and physics of high-performance cars take months.

According to some sources, design studio Polyphony Digital spent six months recreating each premium car in Gran Turismo 5. Every detail of each vehicle is painstakingly captured. Everything from seat stitching to tire treads is meticulously recreated.

Polyphony Digital spent six months of work-hours for each of the premium cars in Gran Turismo 5. Automakers have embraced video games as a new-age digital showroom where potential buyers can get an idea of what a car is like. A dealership could never match the accessibility and flexibility of a video game. Buyers now test drive their dream cars from their couch.

An unlikely hero emerges

When one thinks of cars ubiquitous linked to video games, images of sleek performance vehicles are the first to spring to mind. Futuristic, luxurious, and rare cars are popular choices giving players simulated driving experiences they may never have in real life.

That being said, many mundane daily drivers have made their way into video games as well. In fact, According to data analyzed by carwow, the Volkswagen Beetle is featured in more video games than any other car. With a total of 337 titles under its belt, the Beetle is an unlikely hero.

Fans can spot bugs in titles such as Need for Speed, Grand Theft Auto, and Gran Turismo. Ford is the most common brand to be featured with more than 8,700 simulated models hitting the digital streets. The Crown Victoria is a popular choice for police cars in many games.

The future of cars in gaming

Brick and mortar dealerships have never had more competition. Car shoppers can choose from social media, selling apps, online car sellers, and even vending machines when looking for a car. Online buying is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to buy a car.

Online shopping began to gain popularity before the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. After restrictions made in-person shopping difficult, virtual shopping only continued to grow. It’s unlikely that these car-buying trends will reverse.

Virtual shopping will continue to grow in popularity alongside technologies that can make the experience even more realistic. Augmented Reality hardware is becoming widely available. Gamers have been experiencing driving in games in whole new ways. AR virtual test drives could become a mainstream part of car buying.

Of all the cars featured in a video game, the Volkswagen Beetle coming out on top is fascinating. The relationship between video games and the automotive industry will only continue to grow. New car shopping could become the next mundane process to be gamified.


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