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Videogame Soundtracks: An Untapped Resource?

| 6 Jan 2009 18:17
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Streamline Studios says publishers are missing out on opportunities provided by videogame soundtracks by failing to make them available to gamers as separate products.

Streamline joined with Black Hole Recordings in December 2008 to launch an audio division that will offer "comprehensive music and audio services" to developers and publishers, and also release game soundtracks under the Streamline Records label. The studio has previously helped develop original soundtracks for games including Gears of War, Unreal Tournament and Saint's Row.

"If you think about how much music is made in the games industry, the investment that goes into it compared to general game budgets is about 2-4 per cent, it's pretty small," Daniel Kozlov of Streamline said in an interview with GamesIndustry. "But at the same time big publishers who have so many IPs have libraries of stuff that's just sitting there not doing anything."

"Some people love that music - I remember the Heroes of Might & Magic series had beautiful music, some of which was licensed, some was original, but I was wishing I could download the tracks, but I couldn't find them anywhere online," he continued. "That's exactly where a company like this comes in and offers to put that library online, which is virtually cost-free, and even if you only have five hundred people buy it you'll probably break even. It just makes so much sense."

Does it make sense? PC gamers have the advantage of usually being able to extract in-game music with little difficulty, but for console gamers this could be a real boon. Videogame music has had a cult following for years, but high-profile game soundtracks are growing increasingly viable as stand-alone products for the mainstream market, and while major companies like Electronic Arts have the wherewithal to release their music independently or bundle it as a bonus, smaller developers and publishers often do not. But the obvious market here is gamers, and predicting whether they'd view this as a boon or a cheap cash-grab is tricky, to say the least.

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