Big Steam soundtrack update makes it easier to buy and listen to music

When you're browsing through Steam's store, you'll often see game soundtracks available for their respective games as DLC. If that kind of branding struck you as odd, you certainly weren't alone there. After all, one key drawback of designating a soundtrack as DLC is that it meant you had to purchase the game before you could buy its soundtrack.

For most, that was probably okay, because it's hard to imagine many people opting to buy a soundtrack without first having played the game it belongs to, but in any case, Steam is fixing that particular issue (and many more) by rolling out a new "soundtrack" app type. This will allow soundtracks to exist separately from their associated games, which means users will have a lot more flexibility when it comes to buying them.

In a post to the Steamworks Development blog, Valve says that prior to this change, soundtracks were merely given the "DLC" app type, which resulted in those strange restrictions. With the "soundtrack" app type now available for developers to use, a lot of those restrictions go away. For instance, you can now buy a game's soundtrack without purchasing the game first, and you can also download soundtracks separately from the games themselves.

On top of that, soundtracks can now be managed through the Steam library (which means they'll no longer be grouped with their game listings), and developers can now sell soundtracks on Steam even if the games they're associated with aren't available on the platform.

Along with this update, Valve is also rolling out support for high-quality file types. All soundtracks will be available in MP3 format as the standard, but developers can also include formats like FLAC and raw WAV if they choose to. Users will then have the option to download those higher-quality file types when they purchase the soundtrack. Soundtracks through Steam now also support cover art and liner notes, which is always a nice thing to see.

If you've already got a heap of soundtracks on Steam, the good news is that Valve is giving developers a tool to convert existing soundtracks from the DLC category to the soundtrack one, so it shouldn't be long before your soundtracks are updated to work with Steam's new system. Steam says it plans to expand these features in the future and toward the end of its blog post says that it'll be holding a sale event on January 20th, so we'll keep our eyes peeled for more on that. Stay tuned.