Sony Music Entertainment is rolling out a new line of artist-branded iPhone and iPad games under the Pinball Rocks banner.

Designed as a sort of throwback to artist-themed pinball machines of the '70s, the Pinball Rocks games are developed by Gameprom in conjunction with the artists and label. The debut game is built around speed-metal legends Slayer, for $3.

From the release:

Pinball Rocks continues the rich legacy of iconic metal and rock bands making pinball tables, and for the first time extends that experience into the app world in a meaningful way, by offering fans an exciting and realistic gaming experience that immerses players in Slayer's legendary sound and dynamic visual aesthetic.
Pinball Rocks appeals to both long-time and new Slayer fans, as well as any pinball enthusiast, by giving gamers multi-ball play and full tap-along mini-game, as well as exciting visual elements like spinning razor blades, guitars, amps, concert lights, and a skull that eats your ball and spits it out through its eyeball. And of course, this is all accompanied by music that rocks courtesy of Slayer. The game will include original voiceovers from Slayer members as well as songs from Slayer's latest American Recordings release, World Painted Blood.

For a more hands-on explanation, check out the demo.

Developer Gameprom is a leading developer of pinball-style games for the iPhone/iPad platforms, having won an Apple Design Award for its flagship Pinball HD game.

No word yet on the next artists to participate in the new franchise. The move is indicative of the labels changing strategy around iPhone apps that focus on artist-branded games rather than free artist-branded information apps.

Sony in particular has been on record stating its intention to optimize its artists’ websites for viewing on the iPhone and other smartphones rather than creating custom iPhone apps that contain the same information. UPDATE: I’m hearing that it’s not an either-or proposition. While there’s certainly interest in optimizing artist’s websites to function better on the iPhone, much of that information will still find its way on iPhone apps. Given the increasing competition in the music app space, there’s a growing need to add more utility to artist-based apps beyond basic information and content found on those websites.

But it's not clear yet whether artist-branded iPhone games will have much traction outside of the hard-core fan. Labels say they want artists-branded games to attract iPhone gamers as well as the artist’s fans. However, there’s yet to be an example of this succeeding outside of the hugely successful “I Am T-Pain" app.