Although there might be something nostalgic in listening to the Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack piped through a 16-bit cartridge, video game soundtracks have moved on.
These days, big-budget game developers sign deals with some of the world’s most well-known musicians; it’s not uncommon for bands to produce songs exclusively for a new release.
But when some of the games can easily take more than 50 hours to complete, and sports titles like FIFA have no defined end, the audio can quickly become boring and repetitive. This is also true for strategy games and other similar genres, which will often deploy thematic background music rather than actual songs.
Thankfully, Spotify has you covered with a new feature called Spotify Gaming.
A Brand New Gaming Category
Spotify recently introduced a new Gaming category into its library. The news was announced in a Spotify blog post.
The new section can be accessed in two ways:
Firstly, you can open your Spotify app (on either desktop or mobile), and navigate to Browse > Genres and Moods > Gaming. This will give you an overview of some of the most popular playlists within the category. You can access and listen to the lists in the normal way.
Alternatively, you can visit Spotify’s dedicated gaming website. It will give you a more comprehensive overview of all the available playlists. They can be filtered by Featured Playlists, Community Playlists, Spotify Curated, and Original Soundtracks. Results are ordered alphabetically.
Clicking on a playlist will show you the tracks within it, and you can click on Listen on Spotify to start playing the music within the main app.
The company clearly has huge plans for the section; the amount of content that’s already available is very impressive.
At the moment, it appears to be going for a three-pronged approach:
1. Guest Lists
Spotify has confirmed it will be reaching out to some of the most famous gamers in the world and asking them to collate specialist playlists.
There is already evidence of that, with playlists from e-Sports commentator Day (aka, Sean Plott), TaKe TV (a German gamer), and Sneaky Zebra (a UK-based YouTube channel). The company claims more collaborations are in the pipeline.
Some widely-read gaming websites have also been invited to participate – including Polygon, GamesRadar, and GamesBeat.
The music on these lists is diverse; you might find you enjoy the celebrities’ tastes, or you might hate them. You will have to give them a listen to find out.
2. Original Soundtracks
Flicking through the soundtracks available on the web portal is a sentimental experience.
Some of my favorite games from my own youth are there, including The Sims, Age of Empires, Grand Theft Auto, Street Fighter, and Tomb Raider. Scientists believe our sense of hearing is the second-most powerful for rekindling old memories (after the sense of smell), and it makes listening to these old tracks a real trip down memory lane.
There are also plenty of modern hits – for example, FIFA 16, No Man’s Sky, and Halo 5 are all available. Given these titles include hits from the likes of Disclosure, Busta Rhymes, and Beck, listening to their audio is more akin to listening to an actual CD than a game’s soundtrack.
You can take advantage of these official soundtracks in a number of ways. Would you prefer to listen to the GTA IV soundtrack while playing GTA V? No problem. Do you think the music from Cities Skylines is a more enjoyable background track for SimCity than the title’s own audio? Just fire it up. Was the Halo 4 music better than the Halo 5 offering? Then hit Play.
3. Spotify Playlists
As ever, Spotify has thrown a healthy dose of its own lists into the mix.
These lists are broadly genre-focused, allowing you to meld your preferred tastes with the type of game you’re playing.
If you’re preparing for a fast-paced hour on your favorite action game, maybe you could try the “Power Gaming” playlist. It promises to get you in the mood with a selection of upbeat rap music. Alternatively, if you’re bedding down for a marathon session on a strategy game like Europa Universalis IV, try “Mellowed Out Gaming” to keep you focused.
There is also a retro playlist – perfect if you’re firing up your Sega Genesis emulator – and indie, geeky, and even Pokémon-themed offerings.
One list you should definitely check out is “Gaming Anthems”. It includes some of the most epic tracks from the gaming world, including “Extraction Point” from Call of Duty II, “Welcome to Los Santos” from GTA V, “The Three Banners” from The Elder Scrolls, and “Master Assassin” from Assassin’s Creed.
Build Your Own Gaming Playlist
Why not use these playlists as a starting point and create your own customized gaming soundtrack?
Of course, if you listen to these tracks enough they’ll start to appear in your Discover Weekly playlist. A better solution, however, is to take advantage of one of Spotify’s newer features.
Let’s say you really like the Battlefield 4 soundtrack, but wish there were more than 17 tracks on it. Spotify can recommend similar songs, but first you’ll need to copy them into your own playlist.
The first step is to create a new empty playlist by clicking on File > New Playlist and giving it an appropriate name.
Next, navigate to the official soundtrack you want to use as your foundation. Once there, press CTRL + A and drag all the songs into your newly created empty playlist.
Now, go back to your own playlist and scroll down to the bottom. You’ll see a section called Recommended Songs. They are songs based on your existing playlist that Spotify’s algorithms have discovered. They might be from similar artists, similar games, or similar genres. As such, they should retain the feel of the game’s original soundtrack.
You can click Refresh to cycle through more songs.
Using this method also allows you to delete any songs you don’t like from the original soundtrack. If done properly, you should be left with a gaming soundtrack that’s perfectly curated to your own tastes.
Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of Spotify’s Similar Artists feature. Just click on an artist’s name and you’ll be shown suggestions in a column on the right. In the example below, I opened Johan Skugge’s page (the man responsible for much of the Battlefield 4 soundtrack).
How Do You Find the Perfect Soundtrack?
Spotify’s new Gaming section promises to be massive, and there are thousands of different ways you can take advantage of it. Whether you want to listen to retro soundtracks, refresh an old game’s audio with something more original, or create your own perfect playlist, all of these options and more are now at your fingertips.
Have you had time to explore Spotify’s new Gaming section yet? What are your initial thoughts? How do you see it improving your gaming experience? What are your favorite songs to listen to while gaming? Or are you a purist who only ever listens to game’s actual soundtrack?
Let us know your opinions in the comments section below.