The future of music has been up in the air for some years, as iTunes, Spotify and YouTube do battle to try to make music pay over piracy in the digital age.
But the future of music in games took a huge leap forward this week, as music streaming service Spotify launched on Sony’s PS4 and PS3 games consoles.
PS4 owners can now play any one of millions of songs while they take down enemies in Call of Duty, cruise the streets in Grand Theft Auto V or screech round corners in Driveclub.
Tech Talk put the service to the test... and we can’t recommend it highly enough.
Starting up the app - which now comes built in to the PS4’s user interface and replaces Sony’s failed Music Unlimited service - gives you two login options, either sign in with your username, or fire up a phone or tablet with Spotify running on the same wi-fi connection, and you’ll be able to get going on PS4. It’s remarkably simple.
The phone/tablet integration is the best thing about it. While the app runs on its own on PS4, its interface is clunky, with your own music (in playlists and songs, but not albums for some reason) showing up in groups of five at a time, forcing you to scroll through scores of screens to see all your music. It’s nowhere near as good as using on a phone, PC or tablet.
But you can use another device to play through PS4.
Firing up Sony’s racing sim Driveclub, we selected an album on our phone - Plastic Beach by Gorillaz - and it immediately came through in the game’s background. It plays over loading screens and menus, and keeps going during the race. But it also blends with sound effects like tyre squeals and engine noise.
You can then skip or change songs at any time by using the Spotify controls on your phone. It even lets you adjust the volume of the PS4’s music via a phone or tablet. It really works.
We did find that when we had both an iPad and an Android phone on the same connection, the iPad would bully the phone off the connection, forcing you to use only the iPad, but that’s a minor annoyance.
Firing up Far Cry 4 instead, we ran around the vast, lush jungles of Kyrat to the upbeat tones of Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters, making headshots and driving quad bikes through the mud to the tune of Times Like These.
The only thing we found is that the game doesn’t recognise the background music natively, meaning you have to pause the song for clipscenes, and turn off the game’s own music. But proper support is sure to come as newer games release ground-up Spotify integration.
Spotify Premium users will love it - the service has excellent sound quality and supports ‘Extreme’ streaming at 320kb/s.
But you don’t have to be a Premium user - the service still works with adverts for free users.
Overall, Spotify for PS4 works well and we’d recommend it for gamers and music lovers alike.