Video games & music have always been intertwined ever since the first arcade games featured ultra catchy repetitive 8-bit melodies to add drama or tension within the gameplay.
In-game music soundtracks have grown in importance too, driven by software houses such as Electronic Arts (EA) who began licensing in recorded music for their annually updated sports games console titles such as John Madden Football or FIFA soccer.
FIFA 98 kicked off EA's excellent music curation for their football game with Blur's 'Song 2' which would have been heard millions of times across all of the hours of gameplay that year. EA games continue to licence in 40 tracks within each new release of FIFA with more than 500 tracks licensed over the last 20+ years.
For many gamers who immerse in the team building and online competitions, a FIFA playing season lasts as long as the real-life football season does. FIFA's music soundtrack bookends each match on the game with at least 2 tracks heard either side matches played.
The exposure for artists who feature on the annually updated soundtrack is vast, with 20 million players in the 2017/18 season and in the latest FIFA19, play counts will be huge racking up an estimated billion music streams for any given song that features on the soundtrack.
FIFA is arguably one of the biggest annual music releases of the year as the games console title outsells the biggest music album offerings each year and has a larger active playing audience than all but the very biggest audiences of Spotify's top streaming playlists we put our thoughts on this in our previous LEARNings on FIFA.
Ever since its first release back in 1997, GTA has always featured themed radio stations that you tune into whilst cruising around in vehicles getting up to no good within the crime-filled cityscapes.
GTA V which is the latest title in the series is the biggest selling game of all time selling 95 million copies since its release in 2014. The in-game soundtrack features over 160 tracks playing across 17 radio stations which provides gamers with many hours of tunes to get lost in along the way.
GTA's Online: After Hours launched in 2018, providing additional gameplay time including a ramping up and a new angle for the music offering within the game.
After Hours add-on was all built around the running of a nightclub featuring DJ sets in residency weeks through the summer from the likes of The Black Madonna, Solomun, Dixon and Tale Of Us.
Although Rockstar games don’t release details of their online playing stats we feel that the investment they are still making into these add-ons several years after the release of the game hopefully means that they are incubating ideas which may mean we will see more in-game music exclusives for future editions of GTA.
When the next iteration of GTA hits the console market there will undoubtedly be huge interest in the new music offering that accompanies all of the action on screen.
Convergence of music within games continues into 2019, notably in the first couple of months in 2019 with an electronic music festival held within Minecraft over the course of a weekend on 12th & 13th January and more recently a live DJ set from Marshmello in Fortnite on 2nd February which attracted the biggest ever reported concert attendance of all time with 10.7 million joining the live and interactive stream in one of the games battle arenas.
Although this record-breaking attendance figure is high this was only 5% of the reported 200 million registered global Fortnite players and the performance time length was just over 10 minutes with no numbers broken down for partial or completed views of the event.
Since the event a further 28 million views and counting of the Fortnite gig have occurred on YouTube and Marshmello has put out an extended 30mins mix of the set to stream via Apple Music.
Could we see even further in-roads for more music placement into gaming and partnership opportunities for artists to showcase and monetise their music in the gaming environment beyond sync track license deals?
With the huge presence that gaming audiences provide could there ever be real live performances of bands and solo acts within an interactive gaming environment?
We like to think this fusion of music and games will continue onwards and we look forward to exploring this further in the future.
Get in touch if you need help in gaining a deeper understanding of your audiences for video games or music, drop us a line at the All Ears Group.