Jukebox Heroes: Six MMOs that need official soundtrack releases

For an avid fan of video game soundtracks, and of MMO soundtracks in particular, the most frustrating aspect of collecting and listening to these scores is how shabbily the OST is often treated. For every game like World of Warcraft or Aion that gives great respect to its music by creating and selling albums, there are two or three titles that have never seen a single official release at all.

This is such a shame and an aggravation that I need to call some of these titles out this week. I need to wag my fanboy finger in their direction and ask, "What gives?" There's so much great music that is put into these ever-expanding games... and the fact that only a fraction of it is ever made widely available to the public to purchase and enjoy outside of the game is a loss (moreso if the game shuts down). I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the composers to see their work bottled up in a product that might go offline forever at any time.

Here are six such MMOs that drive me nuts every time I think about how awesome it would be if their studios would ever consent to an official soundtrack release.

1. Star Wars: The Old Republic

To be fair, SWTOR was initially pretty good about its music: It released half of the launch soundtrack in the collector's edition and made the other half available for free on its website. But since then, it's been a desert of silence from BioWare on additional score releases, even as we've plowed through a half-dozen expansions.

This is an egregious oversight, particularly in the case of the two most recent releases: Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne. I've been listening to the ripped files on YouTube lately and have been astounded at how good they are, pretty much right up there with my favorite Williams pieces. It's so wonderful and needs to be out there already.

2. EverQuest II

Similar to SWTOR, EverQuest II started out right with a core game OST release and has subsequently ignored such efforts. Considering how long the game has been out, how many expansions it has published, and the sheer magnitude of music that's been added for all of its updates and packs, it's beyond bewildering why all of this is kept locked away. Need more convincing? Superstar composer Inon Zur handled several of the expansions and updates, and usually his stuff is almost automatically destined for an album release.

The problem here is that, for whatever reason, SOE/Daybreak has never given much love to its MMO soundtracks. Not consistently, to be sure, and that makes my eye twitch. Vanguard? Great stuff, never got a release. Same with EverQuest 1. Same with... pretty much all of its games.

3. Runes of Magic

The Runes of Magic OST is a triumph of power and high fantasy soundscapes, and I am mystified as to its relative obscurity among gamers' knowledge and its release in any official capacity. This is probably due to its perceived status as a knock-off and how fast it's slipped out of the limelight. I really wish we could've had a soundtrack release before this had happened so that its musical legacy would have a better chance to live on.

4. Wizard101

KingsIsle ticks me off sometimes. Wizard101 has a rather enchanting and incredibly varied musical score, thanks to its more cartoony nature and its multitude of worlds. But the most the studio has ever done for it is to make the music available in... ringtones. Enjoy that music, kids? Here's a short snippet for your phone!

I once wrote a letter to the studio asking for access to the full OST, to which a PR person pointed me right back at the ringtone page. That set off a half-hour rant in the privacy of my own living room that no one will ever hear, but let's just say that ancient curses were invoked and a few stress balls destroyed.

No. Just... no. I want the whole track. I'm greedy that way.

5. Star Trek Online

Cryptic is another studio that has stubbornly refused to put its scores out to the public. Four MMOs now, and not one official release of which I'm aware. If I had to pick one, I think Star Trek Online should get the nod. It's got several terrific pieces, including its main theme (which I still contend is one of the best title themes in MMOs) and movements from the newer expansions. Trek is kind of hotter these days than it's been for a while, so why not capitalize on that?

6. Allods Online

The mix of Russian and fantasy makes Allods Online's score rather fascinating to listen through. Sure, you might get some sort of weird vision of Dwarves in fur hats marching down the street in formation, but why is that a bad thing?

As with most of the titles on this list, Allods has a wealth of updates since its launch, and where there are updates, there is new music. Let's get that out to the public ASAP!

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don't miss the author's MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
11 comments
Scin Karetyr
Scin Karetyr

Another one: Lime Odyssey. Though LO never left alpha, its soundtrack was composed by the same guy that did the soundtrack for Chrono Trigger: Yasunori Mitsuda. Some of the tracks are on YouTube.

ConnerPlays
ConnerPlays

I definitely have to agree on you with Wizard101 NEEDING an ost release. If not the entire game then a least music from Arc 3. Mirage alone is gorgeous 

gipfeli
gipfeli

Anarchy online

Also dark age of camelot.. Loved the login music <3

Twitticle
Twitticle

@gipfeli *sigh* Shrouded Isles nostalgia.

Anarchy Online blew me away for a long time. Their dynamic approach was also something I wish more studios would use. They would have songs that had multiple sets, so sometimes you heard Song A with different middle or ending parts. For example, Song A.a might change the middle from Song A.a to Song A.b, or A.c, etc... the ending would go back to Song A.a. Was an awesome effect for so early in the days of MMO. I wonder why more isn't done in this area today. I remember reading an article long ago about what they did and how. Wish I could find that again.

schmidtcapela
schmidtcapela

@Twitticle @gipfeli

Pre-recorded versus synthesized music. For example, Lucasarts used to make the music seamlessly adapt to what was happening on the screen two decades ago, but this tech was mostly abandoned when using pre-recorded CD-quality music became feasible.

zoward
zoward

I often wonder about this.  It seems like they're just leaving money on the table ... but are they?  How much does it cost to line up the licensing for release, create the cover artwork, make it available on the major distribution networks (iTunes, Amazon, etc).  Is it the developer or publisher that would be responsible for this?  Do enough of us love the music enough to pay for it to recoup these costs?

schmidtcapela
schmidtcapela

@zoward

What many indies (and some larger studios) are doing is selling the soundtrack as a DLC; you purchase the soundtrack "DLC" and get it as sound files in the game's install directory, ready for use in a media player. This removes most of the costs in making the soundtrack available.


If the studio and publisher don't think they can make money on the soundtrack they can also put it up for free download on the game's homepage, generating goodwill and perhaps even serving as extra marketing.

uberghost
uberghost

Played SWTOR for two years with the music at 0%...because music generally distracts me from communication.  Someone on my raid team said it was pretty good so I turned it up on a random planet.  I sat on Alderaan for an hour just listening.  Then, I replayed every single class story...for the music.  I'm glad I did...it's that good.


There's a lot wrong with the game right now if you're a raider, but music ain't one of them...  

Golconde
Golconde

I like the Everquest 2 music that Laura Karpman did.  If you find any of her non eq2 orchestral stuff it sounds a lot like the vanilla stuff.  I think she kind of has a jazzy sound but with orchestral instruments...

Twitticle
Twitticle

@Golconde I really wish Laura was more involved with MMO titles. I absolutely loved her EQ2 music. If I could make a suggestion on BDO expansions - I would say add her to scoring department - even just as a consultant. Some of BDO music is enjoyable, but mostly its themes are too short and end up being repetitive. I know all MMO music gets that way but I notice it a lot with BDO.

Regardless, Laura offers a unique element in the MMO music space.

schmidtcapela
schmidtcapela

Particularly, if there is no official soundtrack available and I purchased the game (or paid enough in a F2P game that I feel like I should be entitled to it), I will rip the soundtrack for my personal use without a qualm. If the dev or publisher isn't willing to provide me with their soundtrack in exchange for my money, well, not my fault.