First of all, why do some people think we don't need real instruments anymore? The argument mentioned most often in favor of a completely digital production is "samplers sound as good as real instruments". Of course this is not true. But in our experience this argument is most often simply covering the real reason: many (so called) game music producers simply lack the capability to use real instruments (either lacking musical education or equipment). In fact we often encounter the situation that a "game soundtrack" is composed by a friend of a developer who happens to be a hobby musician. Don't get me wrong: this procedure is perfectly fine for low budget games. But if you plan to make an impact with your game, you should think more professionally.
So are bombastic soundtracks with real instruments only for the million budget AAA titles? Absolutely not. We at Hans HiScore for example mix virtual instruments with real ones, whereby we use real instruments where they have the biggest impact. For example, a completely electronic sound track is perfectly fine and sometimes even desireable for a game. But adding the voice of a real singer to the track livens it up in a way no virtual instrument can (listen to the Scorched 3D Main Titel or the track Strong (also featuring real flugelhorn and guitars) for example). By using this production technique we get the impact and feeling of real instruments on a budget usually only possible with all electronic productions.
Our network of professional musicians and the availability of several vintage instruments in our studio gives us the opportunity to always choose the right mix for you. Of course many soundtracks are 90% digitally produced, but that pinch of real instruments and vocals spices up any music and brings it to a totally different level. So as you choose a studio for your audio and music production, be sure they're at least capable of using real instruments and musicians - otherwise you might end up with a rather dull mediocre soundtrack.
Photo under CC license by Udnapishtin