Video game history has enjoyed some truly iconic soundtracks.
From Secret of Mana to God of War via Ocarina of Time, Hotline Miami and even the Wii Shop, we’ve been blessed with hundreds – if not thousands – of glorious soundtracks over the decades.
Much like cinema, music is used throughout gaming experiences to heighten emotion, evoke a setting or simply lock you into a trance state to improve performance (hello, Tetris Effect!)
The only real problem is, outside of limited-edition releases, video game soundtracks have often been locked into the games they were borne out of. It’s a far cry from cinematic soundtracks, which often find themselves released across virtually every format.
So, where is the best place to find video game soundtracks? Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular options.
YouTube has given birth to a gaming community the likes of which we’ve never seen before, with millions of video game-related videos populating the website, even with streamers abandoning the platform for Twitch.
One of YouTube’s great strengths is its range of video game soundtracks. You’ll find there are literally hundreds of thousands of video game OST uploads on YouTube, running the gamut from early video game music to modern, fully orchestrated soundtracks.
A particular strength for YouTube is the number of compilation videos uploaded, which feature multiple hours of the “best” video game music – ideal for working to.
What lets YouTube down, however, is its heavily compressed audio streams, designed to reduce server load and streaming wait times. This results in a lower bitrate audio stream and, therefore, worse sounding video game music. That’s fine if you’re outputting to a pair of cheap headphones, but decent audio gear demands better.
Add in the fact that YouTube’s free tier includes a boatload of adverts, and you’ll see the limitations of YouTube as a video game OST service.
SoundCloud is a music-focused social network, one which lets just about anybody upload music to its servers. From there, members can comment, share and like.
Whilst it was once a haven for pirated music material, a few lawsuits have put paid to that stage of SoundCloud’s evolution. Today, it’s pretty legit and hosts thousands of examples of video game music in high-quality formats, ready for streaming whenever you want them.
Those lawsuits have meant that SoundCloud is now rife with region locks. To resolve this issue, you need to get SoundCloud unblocked with a VPN. There are numerous VPN options available, some free and some subscription-based. Once subscribed to, they will give you access to the entire range of tunes on SoundCloud. You’ll also avoid the adverts which make listening to music on YouTube an unappealing proposition.
Spotify/Google Play Music/Apple Music/Etc
Major streaming services like Spotify are great for traditional music releases, but are they good for video game soundtracks?
By and large, no. Most video games don’t get officially sanctioned OST releases and if they don’t have one, you probably won’t find it on a streaming platform unless it’s been remixed or covered by another artist.
It’s why we generally don’t recommend streaming services for video game soundtracks, despite paid tiers being advert free and high-quality in regards to bitrate.
For its balance of audio quality, selection, background streaming and user interface, our pick for video game soundtracks has got to be SoundCloud. Available in both free and paid tiers, it’s by far the best option for streaming video game soundtracks.