March 6, 2007
Electronic Arts Releases Music from Its Games on iTunes

Here's an interesting example of ancillary content that will likely receive some focused interest from video gamers. Electronic Arts is releasing music from its video games for download through Apple iTunes. According to last Thursday's press release, the music can be purchased through the Electronic Arts Web site. At EA Trax, users can create an "iMix of their usic for their favorite EA game on iTunes."

The market will soon expand from North American into Europe, and new music content will continue to be added from games past and present.

Steve Schnur with EA says in the press release, "As our culture goes increasingly mobile, music fans have demanded to take our game music with them. They have been looking for a singular destination that houses all of EA's music--and this is it."

Wayne Smallman writes, "For me, this kind of thing makes more sense than in-game advertising. While you can see things like in-game advertising adding a sense of authenticity to a video game, in-game music makes for a more engaging experience, and offers a more scalable platform for revenue."

Smallman is looking at inserting music into video games now chiefly with the realization they will come out the other end with a market as hits based on their initial exposure in these games.

Bob Caswell also has some interesting notes about the statistic cited by EA that 55 percent of those who played the game Need for Speed found new songs through playing the game, and that half of them made purchases or downloads resulting from that initial music exposure in-game.

Bob writes, "Count me as one of the 55%; I actually was interested in that Snoop Dogg remix a while back and was annoyed that it didn't seem to exist outside the game. This move by EA should have happened a long time ago and will only help the music industry. There are millions of gamers out there, and they're probably not listening to the radio to find new music they're interested in buying."

I don't know that I agree with Smallman that this replaces product placement and ads in games, but I think this is yet another profitable business model to build and extend involvements in gaming worlds, if the music fits with the game. This seems a fairly natural extension that works well in other media forms as well, and I think EA's model is worth paying attention to, not just for video game companies but for all media producers.

Thanks to C3 Affiliated Faculty Tommy DeFrantz for alerting me to the EA announcement.



Hi Sam and thanks for the mention.

Just thought I'd add a little to your closing comments on my thoughts with regards to in-game advertising.

I had to read my own article again to be sure of what I said, but I'm not suggesting in-game music would replace in-game advertising.

What I am saying is, in-game music makes much more sense, especially since it's something that can be more fully folded into the fabric of the game, while advertising becomes more of a hindrance, if anything.

You could, for example, see the song playing as some tab within the game window, which you could click and deal with outside of the game afterwards.

Maybe the same thing could apply to advertising, but I'm not sure it would be as appealing to do so...


Interesting points about how in-game music is less intrusive and also perhaps more organic than in-game advertising, but I suppose then that you would prioritize in-game music over in-game advertising but wouldn't necessarily feel that in-game ads should be banished.

Thanks for the clarification!


Hi Sam!

Music is always going to be more flexible. Think of it this way: the average person who buys Halo 3 might be into break beats, but the average person that buys a copy of Quake 5 might be into heavy metal.

So you theme your music according to the audience.

Same applies with the adverts, but where's the venue for advertising when both games are set in the distant future on alien worlds?

It's not like you could plug Pepsi or Coke on the side of an alien cruiser, is it?



Very good point, Wayne, and I think it's true that monetizing music works for every video game, while providing advertising certainly does not. However, music also has be walk a fine line as well, as a modern song could seem a little out of place coupled with a midieval video game, etc.


"However, music also has be walk a fine line as well, as a modern song could seem a little out of place coupled with a midieval video game, etc."


So it's a sliding scale, and a case of which (either music or adverts) has the most scope for revenue for any given video game.

Either way, it's hardly a show-stopper.

By the way: I only found this post because my Google Alerts pulled you out of the bloggersphere one morning.

Thing is, convergence is something I have a bit of thing for (which you may or may not have picked up on from visiting my 'blog) so you may find me hanging around a little longer...


Well, Wayne, Google Alerts is a little slow on the draw sometimes, but you have to love it nonetheless. We're more than glad to have you hang around, and I'm glad I stumbled upon your Web site as well. Our initiative at MIT has hoped to position itself as a discussion place of sorts for issues of convergence culture, and--though we are still in relative infancy--we're glad to have been able to join the conversation in the blogosphere. Look forward to your continued input!