For a genre that was supposedly on its deathbed, there sure are a lot of new music games launching this year. The latest is Instant Jam, from the Web gaming firm InstantAction.
Unlike familiar music games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Instant Jam is fully Web-based. And rather than shipping with a ton of licensed tracks, Instant Jam lets users play along to any track stored on their computer.
The game is free, and now available in beta. Players can jam along with either their computer keyboard, or plug in the guitar controllers from either Guitar Hero or Rock Band. The actual gameplay is largely similar to the existing titles.
The cool part is that bands or fans can embed the game in their Facebook profiles or official Web sites, so fans can immediately start playing along. It also supports in-game sales, using virtual dollars to buy real goods. Items include band-branded guitar controllers, or even songs though integration with Amazon.com and iTunes.
It's not yet clear that gamers are interested in computer-based music games. The console/TV experience is a far richer and more immersive experience for music games, and the more casual experience on the computer may not be enough to entice fans, even when gameplay is free. Other computer/online music games include Rockfree. Disney recently acquired the rights to that title after buying the developer's parent company, Playdom.