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!
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