For a genre that was supposed to be 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 traditional music games like 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 available in beta today. Players can jam along with either their computer keyboard, or plug the guitar controllers from either Guitar Hero or Rock Band, and the gameplay is largely similar to the existing titles.
The cool part is that bands or fans can embed the game on their Facebook profiles or official websites, so fans visiting can immediately start playing along to their songs. 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).
While the features are cool, it's not yet clear that gamers are interested in computer-based music games. The console/TV experience is a far richer and immersive experience for these music games, and the more casual experience on the computer may not be enough to entice fans to play them, even for free. Other computer/online music games include Rockfree (which Disney recently acquired the rights to after buying the developer's parent company, Playdom).