Step aside, 'Final Fantasy': modern action-adventure games and RPGs are generating the big bucks for game composers.
Say what you like about gameplay, graphics, and even story–when games are at their most memorable and emotional, it’s almost always thanks to their music. Now, as countless digital services offer new revenue opportunities for composers and developers, we can finally get a good idea of which game soundtracks are the most popular among players.
Research carried out by Seattle-based esports betting site Unikrn has revealed the 25 most streamed video game songs of all time on Spotify. The oddsmaker took the purest (and fairest) route: it focused only on songs specifically composed for games, removing pre-existing, playlisted songs (e.g. FIFA) or promotional tracks created for championships (e.g. League of Legends).
Unikrn discovered that Minecraft’s ‘Sweden’–created by German composer C418, A.K.A. Daniel Rosenfeld–leads the pack with nearly 78 million plays. It has more than double the listens of the second-placed song in the top 25: Minecraft’s theme, also composed by C418, which has racked up nearly 38 million plays.
Minecraft dominates the table, with nearly one-third of the list–seven tracks out of 25–coming from the Mojang classic, totaling 225 million listens. With estimates placing Spotify artist revenue at approximately $1 per 250 plays, C418 may have made $900,000 off these songs, and over a third of that ($312,000) from ‘Sweden’ alone.
Doom (2016) is the second-most popular soundtrack featured on the list: it takes three spots in the top 25, including positions three and four, thanks to ‘Rip & Tear’ and ‘BFG Division’. Action-adventure and role-playing games dominate the remaining table: The Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, and The Witcher III all make the grade with two songs each.
An all-time classic sneaks in at number 17: the marvelous ‘Still Alive’ by Ellen McLain, which served as the heartwarming final song from the iconic Portal. Since being added to Spotify, the 14-year-old song has clocked up over 19 million plays.
The biggest shocks don’t come from what makes the top 25, but what’s jarringly absent. Despite the wide availability of Nobuo Uematsu’s countless OST albums, the Final Fantasy series doesn’t even get close to making the top 25: its highest-performing song, the theme from the original Final Fantasy, registers just three million plays. Even ‘Aerith’s Theme’ only has 1.2 million listens, which is nearly as heartbreaking to hear as the song was that very first time in FFVII.
Other celebrated game soundtracks, from franchises like Super Mario, Pokémon, and Sonic the Hedgehog, also miss the cut entirely, but for an entirely more understandable reason: most of their official music hasn’t been officially published to streaming services. Given the money that could be made, even the ever-protective Nintendo may find it hard to resist Spotify’s revenue potential in the future.
All-time top 25 most streamed game songs on Spotify
- Minecraft: Sweden by C418 (77,500,000 streams)
- Minecraft: Minecraft by C418 (38,400,000)
- Doom: Rip & Tear by Mick Gordon (37,700,000)
- Doom: BFG Division by Mick Gordon (36,250,000)
- The Last of Us: The Choice by Gustavo Santaolalla (35,800,000)
- The Last of Us: The Last of Us Theme by Gustavo Santaolalla (33,100,000)
- Minecraft: Subwoofer Lullaby by C418 (31,800,000)
- Minecraft: Wet Hands by C418 (26,100,000)
- Assassin's Creed II: Ezio's Family by Jesper Kyd (25,100,000)
- Halo 2: Halo (Mjolnir Mix) by Martin O'Donnell/Michael Salvatori (23,500,000)
- God of War: God of War by Bear McCreary (22,100,000)
- Dragon Age Inquisition: Dragon Age Inquisition (Theme) by Trevor Morris (22,100,000)
- Doom: At Doom's Gate by Mick Gordon (22,000,000)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dragonborn by Jeremy Soule (21,000,000)
- Grand Theft Auto V: Welcome to Los Santos by Oh No (21,000,000)
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Theme by Brian Tyler (19,700,000)
- Portal: Still Alive by Ellen McLain (19,500,000)
- Minecraft: Key by C418 (18,800,000)
- The Witcher III: Wild Hunt: Geralt of Rivia by Marcin Przybylowicz (18,300,000)
- Mass Effect 3: Leaving Earth by Clint Mansell (17,200,000)
- Mass Effect: The Vigil by Jack Wall (16,700,000)
- Halo: Halo Theme by Martin O'Donnell/Michael Salvatori (16,500,000)
- Minecraft: Haggstrom by C418 (16,500,000)
- Minecraft: Mice on Venus by C418 (16,300,000)
- The Witcher III: Wild Hunt: Kaer Morhen by Marcin Przybylowicz (15,500,000)