When it comes to video games, I’m not a particularly early adopter. I tend to rely on recommendations or else let new releases go mainstream before popping a game into my console.
But after observing the launch of a few high profile games recently, I’ve noticed the emergence of a new path by which video games get the attention of casual customers like me: Music.
Since the decline of compact discs (remember those?), musicians have been partnering with video game studios and publishers to earn revenue and new fans. But it might be time to view the scheme the other way around: Video game brands using music as a powerful marketing channel to reach a broader audience.
Video games beat Hollywood
First, let’s make an industry comparison. The top grossing film in 2013, Iron Man 3, took $1.2 billion at the box office. When Grand Theft Auto V was released the same year, it made $800 million in worldwide sales in a mere 24 hours.
Since bestselling video games can make in a couple of weeks what top grossing movies make in a year, its easy to understand why analysts speculate that the gaming industry is bigger than Hollywood.
And as video game productions begin to resemble those of Hollywood blockbusters, their accompanying music scores are becoming as epic as the storylines themselves.
The sweeping soundtrack of the recent blockbuster video game Destiny, for example, could easily be mistaken for Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack to the 2014 sci-fi epic, Interstellar. It would be a forgivable mistake too, since the famous composer has already scored music for Infinity Ward Studio’s hit game Modern Warfare 2.
Coeur de Pirate lights up Ubisoft
French Canadian singer and songwriter Beatrice Martin (Coeur De Pirate) has built a strong fanbase over the years with her beautiful and moving musique.
So I was intrigued when in April 2014 Ubisoft announced a partnership with the young artist for the upcoming release of its fantasy game Child of Light.
Months later, I finally sat down to play the game and was blown away: She managed to create a naive yet intensely emotional soundtrack, which for me, really made the game.
The by-product of this collaboration is an original soundtrack that Coeur De Pirate promotes on her own marketing channels, creating awareness for the game in a new niche.
Paul McCartney’s Bungie Destiny
Marty O’Donnell and Mike Salvatori, composers at game studio Bungie, which produces the best-selling Halo franchise, got special help composing music for the studio’s new tentpole game, Destiny.
Music legend Sir Paul McCartney was invited to provide the duo with pieces of his compositions to inspire the planetary themes in Destiny. He also wrote and recorded a song for the game, “Hope For the Future,” which has garnered more than one million views on YouTube alone.
Even a few years ago it would have been difficult to imagine a musician of McCartney’s stature suddenly devoting attention to video games. It serves to show that producers and marketers aren’t viewing gaming as a niche market anymore, but as a mainstream entertainment platform with an ever-growing audience.
And of course McCartney’s collaboration caught the attention of his millions of fans, which in turn expanded the reach of Destiny to music platforms like definitive review site Pitchfork, which rarely covers video games.
It doesn’t take a sniper’s scope to notice the game industry’s transition into mainstream territory.
Meanwhile, music will continue to help games reach more hearts. After all, Hollywood has been doing it for years, creating moving scores and themes that top the charts by artists like Celine Dion, Elton John and Whitney Houston.
The growing number of musical mashups like the ones above raises a few questions about the future of video game marketing:
- Can we soon expect more official theme songs for upcoming releases?
- Could these songs climb up the radio charts in the near future?
- Who will rise as the super composers like Hans Zimmer and John Williams?
- Will video games drive Millennials’ interest in symphonic music?
Let us know what you think in the comments!