What is Going On With Final Fantasy XV’s Soundtrack?

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Photo by ManicMorFF @ Morguefile.com

I have to stop making announcements about what I’m going to write about next because I tend to shuffle around articles. I am still planning on that Final Fantasy VII Advent Children review, since I have seen the movie several times as to highlight flaws with the narrative. But now I have a different issue.

Recently I took the time to pick up a copy of Final Fantasy XV, and for the first time in a long time, I was tempted to pick up the deluxe edition. This temptation was left unfulfilled because I wanted something very specific: the game’s soundtrack.

I love the work of Yoko Shimomura. Like most people I know, I was introduced to her through Kingdom Hearts. Now, when someone says that they like the music in Kingdom Hearts, it’s often interpreted as liking remixed Disney songs. There’s some accuracy to this, since a large portion of the soundtrack is just that.

But my interests in her work were in pieces that took no such inspiration from Disney. I loved the theme of Hollow Bastion, Destati, and basically most of her music that wasn’t connected to the Disney fiction. That, of course, meant a lot of music was cut out. It was worthwhile nonetheless.

So I was looking forward to seeing her music in a game where she had more creative freedom. I was not disappointed with the results, then again, I love the Final Fantasy franchise’s music. I will miss the days when Nobuo Uematsu scored the games, he made some incredible songs that I still listen to.

However, my enthusiasm for Ms. Shimomura’s work was curbed when I found that there was a relative dearth of information regarding the availability of Final Fantasy XV’s soundtrack. I was pointed in the direction of Square-Enix’s online store. They have import CDs and special edition Blu-Ray discs for this purpose.

But this means that I’ll have to shell out $60 minimum for the CDs and possibly more if I wanted to indulge myself. Purchasing the Blu-Ray means I’ll have to figure out how to transfer it to my PC, since my Blu-Ray player is my PS4.

This process would be made significantly easier if they simply provided an iTunes release. I could get the music and download it to my PC, then put it on my iPhone. Easy-peasy.

Square-Enix has normally been pretty good about putting their music for Final Fantasy on iTunes, and Kingsglaive’s soundtrack is already up so I am somewhat hopeful. There are some headscratching decisions and delayed releases. Hitoshi Sakimoto’s soundtracks (which include Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII) took some time to appear on the iTunes store. I am assuming that’s due to licensing issues.

There has been fan demand for Kingdom Hearts music, and I believe that its absence on the iTunes store was for a similar reason. I inferred that it was because Yoko Shimomura’s music (and in the case of the opening themes and closing themes, Utada Hikaru) has not been licensed.

The main headscratcher is Final Fantasy XIV’s music. It was released as a partial album, meaning that all songs must be purchased on an individual basis. Because of the sheer volume of songs, that means you will be paying twice the cost that you would pay for the Blu-Ray disc player.

The logic is that the physical release included a digital pet that you could use in the game. I believe that this would be better handled by making the iTunes release a complete album and simply offer a place where you could purchase the in game pet. One could argue that it’s because they want to move more copies of the physical discs, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s just that someone from above didn’t get it. Which is a shame, because I often use Final Fantasy music to score my Dungeons & Dragons sessions and XIV’s soundtrack is quite appropriate.

There was no information about Final Fantasy XV’s soundtrack getting a release on iTunes. Since the staff at Square-Enix have set up an account specifically for Final Fantasy XV, I decided to tweet them with that question.  I don’t know who staffs the account or what they know, so they very well may not know the answer to that question. It did give me a reason to use my dormant Twitter account. Yet, I have received no response as of now.

Which leads me to ask: why are they being so secretive? Final Fantasy XV has been hyped beyond what it can possibly deliver during the course of its troubled ten year development. It’s got Kingsglaive and Brotherhood, not to mention the mobile game spinoffs of Justice Five and the King’s Knight remake. Was mentioning any hint of the soundtrack just a different issue?

My hope is that it is poised to be released at the same time as the physical release, in which case I won’t have to wait very long. But still, I wonder, just how did it get lost in the marketing blitz that the rest of the game’s contents had?