By Jared Newman | Monday, November 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm
Instant Jam, a Facebook game that happily thumbed its nose at Guitar Hero, Rock Band and record labels, has shut down along with its parent company, InstantAction.
I previewed Instant Jam in August, when it launched as a closed beta. Although the game had some technical hiccups, I was charmed by its ability to let you play your existing music library for free, either on a PC keyboard or with a guitar controller. It was, at the very least, a refreshing antidote to music games that make you pay to perform songs you already own.
Alas, InstantAction announced that it’s winding down operations, which included more than Instant Jam. The company had also sold a game development engine called Torque and was pushing a technology that lets you embed games in a Web browser and play them while they’re downloading. The latter service was likely to be overshadowed anyway by Gaikai, which streams games as compressed video from remote servers (similar to OnLive, but with an emphasis on embedding game trials instead of providing full games).
Instant Jam, it seems, never had time to take off while InstantAction’s other business models failed. I’m hoping someone revives the idea, but it’s unlikely. Music games are not the lucrative venture that they were a few years ago, which might explain why Viacom is trying to unload Harmonix, maker of the Rock Band series. And while a console version of Instant Jam might’ve been a hit, it’s less appealing as a solitary pastime in front of a PC. The game’s defiant approach, however admirable, was too little, too late.