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Steam will soon let you buy game soundtracks for titles you don’t own

PC gaming service Steam has decided to take a different approach to its downloadable soundtracks.

For years, game soundtracks have been treated as downloadable content (DLC) for games, either purchasable separately or sold as part of a bundle. The issue with this is that Steam is built so that DLC can only be purchased by owners of the core game. In other words, you need to have bought the game from Steam to download the soundtrack.

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This is now being corrected with a ‘soundtrack’ app type. This not only means you won’t need to own the original game to buy or download the soundtrack, but also ensures that companies that have decided not to sell their game on the platform can still share the soundtrack, should they wish.

While this is probably only correcting a minor problem in most cases – how many people will know if a game soundtrack is good if they don’t have the game installed? – it does come with other perks. Audio quality is getting a boost, for a start, with developers able to include high-quality audio in FLAC or raw WAV format. There’s also an interface to play soundtracks directly within the Steam Library, and the option to download album art and liner notes too.  

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If you’re already heavily invested in Steam soundtracks, you hopefully won’t be missing out. Valve says it has created a tool for developers that can automate the conversion process from DLC to the soundtrack app type. “Converting a piece of DLC will re-use all your existing app IDs, packages, bundles, pricing, etc,” Valve writes. “Customers who own the DLC version of your soundtrack will continue to own the new version after you publish your changes.” 

For now, this is news for developers only, but you won’t have long to wait for a wider rollout apparently. “We’re planning on launching these features in a wider way, including a sale event, on January 20,” Valve writes. “We’re excited to release, even in this early state, so we can get more feedback from both partners and customers and figure out what makes sense to do next.”

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