The laugh comes from thinking it's comparable tbh, for example you are comparing numerous set routes to dynamic interactions. Yes the are many roads that can make up a route and the is some dynamic in the road someone takes in a route but this isn't the same as interactions in the game worlds we are discussing for example your tomtom isn't tracking the physics of every tree and so on while rendering all of Paris and it's people and vehicles it is a different application all together. It's practically apples to oranges.
Sure, it isn't comparable as TotK doesn't deal with fuzzy logic, mapping unreliable gps data to unreliable road data with added dead reckoning using motion sensors to determine which road and what level of overlapping roads you're following while dealing with dynamic changes to the map, all while driving with added forward prediction to compensate for lag in gps data reception. Damn I wish it was as simple as the car is at X,Y,Z on road R pointing with direction included.
Maybe the user entered a parking lot, taking an exit in a tunnel (where there is no gps reception) is the user still following the route or are the motion sensors measuring straight travel. Quick reroute to the nearest gas station, is the overall route still valid or is there a better one now with timed restrictions / timed speed limits along the route.
Yep not comparable at all to a game where everything is known and you can simply pop up a loading screen or long falls to hide data loading.
However in scope, complexity, storage, it's all just manipulating data in the end. And TotK isn't tracking the physics of every tree. Physics simulation starts and stops with the user interacting with objects. Once objects stop moving they are no longer animated, just rendered where ever they ended up. Until some other active object or the user touches it. NPCs have simple routines, following set paths. Enemy AI is pretty standard from what I've seen so far. The amount of interactions you can do is the impressive part.
As a software developer I'm more impressed by FS2020, the whole world seamless (well minus the poles due to their legacy data structure) with dynamic real time weather (with turbulence, temperature, atmospheric pressure all affecting the wings and flight dynamics of the plane) dynamic traffic (all actual live flights are present in the game), boat traffic, cars, other players, some spots with wildlife, thousands of POIs and many photogrammetry areas integrated. All coming from different servers in real time. And it runs on a Series S!
And back to the topic, don't you think persistence could have worked in TotK with better hardware? (more RAM and/or more storage space) As I said before, just 1MB is enough to store the position and orientation of 47 thousand objects before compression. (And more if fused as then it becomes relative coordinates which take even less space to store) Gonna take a while to build that much!