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Is Licensed Music Primed For Gaming?

It has been an ongoing debate ever since the very first piece of licensed popular music found its way into a video game: should we rely more on original compositions, or should we be turning to the music industry to supply the necessary "oomph?"

For the longest time, I was on the original composition side and in many ways, I still am. Even though we only recently achieved a level of technology that allows for excellent unique creations, I still have great memories of older games, like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Look what Konami did with so little! It was an amazing arrangement of emotional and engrossing tracks and given that, one can only imagine what composers could create for modern-day video games. I still hold to this but at the same time, and with the advent of the portable music explosion ('cough' iPod 'cough'), I find myself desiring licensed music in games. Now, before you rip into me like a monkey on a cupcake, just ask yourself this question: how many times have you been locked in an epic battle in some intense action title, thinking to yourself, "holy sh**, this would be awesome with 'insert music title here' playing in the background!" It's why we have the option of customized soundtracks in some games, and why many PC owners turn off the sound on their games and pump some of their favorite tunes.

I mean, a game like the upcoming Bayonetta, loaded down with attitude and panache, could really benefit from some bad-ass hard rock and metal tracks. Of course, I have complete faith in Platinum Games and I'm sure we'll get some fitting music that will accompany our butt-kicking, but even so... If there's one thing I've found to be true in this new generation, it's that sound plays a more important role than ever before. Granted, it may be more difficult to appeal to a wide variety of gamers if game designers decide to stick with a certain genre throughout an entire adventure. However, who's saying they need to do that? There's plenty of diversity in any music store you'll walk into, and there's likely something to fit any particular situation in a video game. And while I know I'm thinking of music I like in this scenario and I'm certain I'd hate the idea of being forced to listen to hip-hop throughout any game, I still think licensed music is great (to some extent).  Let's face it: our awesome GTA experiences wouldn't be quite so memorable without the popular music on the radio.

I know sports games utilize licensed tracks almost exclusively but we don't hear it as much in other genres, and it may only be a matter of time... I would only ask that it not infringe on the creative talents of original composers for the industry. Yeah, I want my cake and I wanna eat it, too. So what? ;)

7/7/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (30 posts)

Alienange
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 10:17:01 PM
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"monkey on a cupcake" Hahahahaha... Thanks Ben I needed that.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 10:56:26 PM
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I'd be like a monkey on a cupcake for that babe in the Evony ad right above our 2 posts!!

Anyway, I'm thinking 50/50 on the music.

There is times where the game's own music perfectly flows along with that particular game(I'm thinking RPG's), but some other games would would do much better being boosted by licensed music(GTA, 50cent).

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Hezzron
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 11:12:22 PM

I dated that Evony babe in high school.....she ain't all that!

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 10:58:30 PM
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Original music > all the crap out there

There are some great mainstream artists out there, but I'd rather be surprised by MGS's soundtrack, or GOW's soundtrack, any day!

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Hezzron
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 11:10:05 PM
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Licensed music is used in movies to great effect, so I imagine it could definitely work in certain games (and already has as in GTA and sports games). Of course some games have strong recognizable theme music already, and replacing it with some other pop music would be blasphemy. I hope this isn't being overly considered because of the popularity of Rockband and Guitar Hero.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 11:13:11 PM
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I like the original stuff best, but some games do it better than others. I dunno where I'd be without the original final fantasy tracks. But I think more games should let us play our own music just in case someone wants something else. I mean wouldn't it be cool to use the mp3 of a battle sequence in any intense situation in any game.

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Banky A
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 11:23:28 PM
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I think that music pretty much makes the game.
Well, you need a good story and awesome gameplay too. But the music will always be in your mind even when you're not playing.

That was mainly aimed at RPGs and most Japanese games, I'm totally for the idea of licensed songs being on sandbox games and action/adventure. Etc

And BTW I'm in the stage of my life where I can't take many new songs with singing seriously. I only listen to instrumentals right now. So I definitely want mainstream instrumental music in games.

^_^ btw Eastern gaming music > everything. That must be the Asian inside of me hah.

And lastly about RPGs..
You can't tell you that you can imagine FFVII with a different battle song ;) that was the best in the series I reckon (the battle theme).

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 @ 11:27:08 PM
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Cool Boarders had some amazing soundtracks :*(

I miss that series!

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Deleted User
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 12:11:28 AM
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it really depends on the game, and what if its an industry song you HATE, it could ruin the experience for you. (Theres always the mute button, but having that hassle in the game would still be annoying.)

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slayerkillemall
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 1:23:39 AM
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personally,the thing that bothers me the most is when i cant "turn off" the games music.

there are very few games where music fits the scenario,and in that case i want to be able to fire up my METALLICA collection...

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Doosharm
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 2:12:04 AM
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I think games would benefit from licensed music in the same way movies do. Some movies choose to use an original score (epic or artsy movies) and others choose to use popular music (like summer blockbusters). As long as the music is used in an appropriate way, I think it could enhance the experience for a lot of people.

One thing I would hate to see is a random playlist that just plays throughout the game like in a lot of sports or racing games. I would hate to be fighting an epic boss battle and have some stupid pop song come on. For games with story it would have to be well placed and well timed songs chosen specifically for the occasion.
, just like in the movies.

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Ricochet
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 2:45:05 AM
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I prefer the music-in games. Customized music made me sick after watching too many AMV's. The only time I prefer putting my own music in game is when I'm playing racing games.

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 3:24:55 AM
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It all really depends if the game is based on fiction or reality. games like Madden or GTA IV want a sense of realism so they'll use common music we may regonize, while games like Final Fantasy and Silent Hill work far better with something new, that we dont know, it enhances the experience.

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www
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 6:13:55 AM

Agreed

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www
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 6:19:06 AM

Like Ultima is saying,same here.
We can't have licensed tracks on Final Fantasy or any rpg for that matter. Games like GTA wouldn't do well with original tracks.As well as sports games too, could you imagine the FFX "welcome to zanarkand" soundtrack being played on Madden? Lol.

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Highlander
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 10:54:56 AM

Some RPGs would work very well with well chosen classical pieces or jazz. I believe that Eternal Sonata kinda proves that. As long as the pieces chosen suit the mode and style of the game, what difference would it make if they were specifically chosen and re-arranged or completely new compositions?

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Ultimate_Balla
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 4:15:03 AM
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Depending On The Genre. . . Wordup To Ultima.

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BeezleDrop
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 10:38:48 AM
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Some of it works perfectly with some games depending on the genre yes, and some of you with your own preference already know the right music for the right game.

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Alienange
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 10:46:21 AM
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They're both here to stay. God of War for one just needs to be heard while you play. Same goes for SotC. Other games like Super Stardust HD can be played with any old anthem in the back.

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Highlander
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 10:52:32 AM
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I think that some games suit original compositions, and some games suit licensed contemporary music. Madden NFL, and Burnout Paradise are both great examples of licensed music working in a game. But it really depends on the genre. A game like Soul Calibur would - IMHO - be stripped of it's mood if the fights were accompanied by licensed heavy rock tracks, or some crap soft rock, or worse still the latest pop-tune.

Of course this is one of the reasons I used to laugh at folks who put so much significance on custom sound track options in games. It's a great option in some games - for example Madden NFL and Burnout Paradise. But, such options would ruin the mood of games like MGS, Uncharted, Xenosaga, Final Fantasy, Soul Calibur or Tekken. So I would have to say that with respect to licensed music in games, it depends.

If commissioning original compositions constitutes going to the music industry, I'm all for it. But if it's just a shortcut for game designers, forget it.

That said, who wouldn't want the docking sequence in Elite to be accompanied by the Blue Danube waltz a la 2001 A Space Odyssey?

I think we also have to remember that licensed music doesn't have to be just rock or pop, there are other genre of contemporary music. That doesn't even scratch the surface of all the jazz and great classical music in publishers back catalogs that could be brought out of retirement, not to mention goodness knows how many hours of incidental music composed for movies and TV that could be adapted/re-arranged for games as well.

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LightShow
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 11:56:56 AM
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i think really the application is the deciding factor for me.

Burnout Paradise, for example, is perfect for all kinds of different licensed music. Something like MGS4 or even games like Ratchet and Clank or the Jak series, part of playing the game is immersing yourself in it. While Megadeth would be cool while playing Jak 3, it would detract from the setting.

Music is as much a part of the setting as the rest of the soundtrack, or even where the game takes place. God of War would be cool in space, right? Maybe, but it wouldn't be God of War, would it?

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556pineapple
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 2:02:27 PM
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As everyone has said, licensed music works best with GTA, sports games, and of course, music games. For all others, give me original compositions. And if you disagree, you can make music videos for songs with game footage. I speak of course about Resident Evil 4 and Vicinity of Obscenity by SOAD. Easily the best I've seen. Back on subject, GTA actually works both ways, because it has licensed music, original music, and original music by otherwise licensed artists for the game specifically.

Last edited by 556pineapple on 7/8/2009 2:04:36 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 3:28:41 PM
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Loved the super old school music in Fallout 3, Galaxy News Radio ftw.

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Alienange
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 3:34:43 PM

Agreed. Gave it that creepy feeling which was cool. Same for Bioshock. "Doggy in the window" song while setting up trap bolts. Good times.

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KING313
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 5:20:23 PM

what is ftw?

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LightShow
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 9:36:15 PM

for the win or (in biker slang) f*** the world

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KING313
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 5:20:09 PM
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Open-world, sandbox games...yes(pending). Story driven...no. It works great with games like GTA and Saint's Row. I loved the God of War compositions(1+2), I even enjoyed the songs from kingdom hearts. When your driving and or riding around in games you want some variety. If not it seems more like a road trip with 1 cd.....boring.

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KING313
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 5:21:14 PM

sports games as well because they are capable of infinite playing. I'd actually like every game to have a custom sondtrack. Sometime I wanna hack and slash while I'm listening to lil wayne or the killers...

Last edited by KING313 on 7/8/2009 5:22:47 PM

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 5:39:34 PM
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@hezzron73
But now that she's all grown up, she's really blossomed & looks a hell of a better since the time you dated her back way back when, in her pre-puberty years.

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Alienange
Thursday, July 09, 2009 @ 12:24:51 PM

Rough.

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