As a self proclaimed avid gamer, I find myself spending a small fortune each year supplying my gaming habits. With the holiday season fast approaching, the most anticipated games of the year will be on store shelves within months. Here’s the dilemma, restrict your gamer urges and splurging tendencies by severely limiting which games you purchase, OR, explore a more affordable option. Let’s take a look at the most popular video game rental service and a newcomer in the market.
While movie buffs have Netflix, gaming enthusiasts have Gamefly. The video game rental company has become quite popular in the past few years, developing a service that was previously available only for movies. For a flat monthly rate, members can rent anywhere from one, two, or three titles at a time. Gamefly gives you the ability to keep games as long as you want and return them when you’re done. This includes new releases, and previous generation classics. Even better, through the service you can actually purchase games as well. New releases cost an upwards of $65.00 at a typical retail store, not including tax or possible shipping. With Gamefly, newly released titles are usually available for purchase new, $59.99 or used $49.99.
1-Game Plan: $15.95/month
2-Game Plan: $22.95/month
3-Game Plan: $29.95/month
Any hardcore gamer can see how Gamefly can provide a cost effective alternative to video game shopping. For those who prefer to build upon their collection buy purchasing games, the cheaper-than-retail purchase option is a great way to try out the games you’re unsure about while having the flexibility to purchase games you like.
14-day FREE Trial
Gamefly has special TV offers all the time. If you’re living under a rock and haven’t seen any commercials, check online for a special offer code. You can rent 2 games at a time with their TV special trial, including a full selection of games available to trial participants.
Gamefly boasts a very impressive game library, featuring the latest and most anticipated games the exact date of their release. Everything from Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, and the Nintendo 3DS is available for rental. Also, a slew of older titles from the previous generation of consoles are accessible as well (PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, GBA).
Speed and Delivery
This is perhaps the only category where Gamefly’s sparkling reputation gets a little dirty. Gamefly operates using an active Queue system. Subscribers fill their GameQ with as many games, new and old, as desired. Games at the top of the list are given priority and sent first for the most part. As stated on the official website:
Games ship from one of our five shipping centers: Los Angeles, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; Tampa, FL; Austin, TX and Seattle, WA, via the US Postal Service first class mail. The US Postal Service estimates, on average, 2 to 4 business days for shipping times to anywhere in the US. Shipping times may vary from member to member as well as from shipment to shipment, depending on your local postal route, delivery location, volume of mail, weather, postal holidays, etc.
In fact, as of the week of 10/9/2011, 95% of games shipped are in members’ top 5 Q rank. As a personal member, I can tell you that the speed of delivery from the Gamefly facility to my home has nearly always ranged within 2-3 days. When sending games back, expect it to take 2-3 days for Gamefly to receive them, and for the status to be updated in your GameQ.
Overall I’ve had good experiences with Gamefly’s shipping rate. The main critique rests on which items of the GameQ are shipped. Often times I find that the top entries of my list go unanswered and unsent while games at the bottom are distributed instead. Be prepared for a deviation from the 95% ship rate of your top 5 Q titles.
Beyond the rental business, Gamefly boasts its own internet arcade. Featuring nearly 3000 flash games, casual gamers could definitely get hooked on this random inclusion of the Gamefly service.
A veteran in the movie market since 1985, Blockbuster has taken the reins into the gaming world for the first time ever. After a rough decline leading to bankruptcy in 2010, the company was sold and bought under new management. The new Blockbuster has broadened its horizons and developed an online rental service similar to Netflix and Gamefly. Blockbuster offers members the ability to rent one, two, or three disks at a time. Yes disks. Blockbuster operates in terms of movies AND games. The movie/video game fusion was enough to grab my attention and encourage me to sign up for the 30-day free trial.
1-Disk Plan: $9.99/month
2-Disk Plan: $14.99/month
3-Disk Plan: $19.99/month
Price-wise, Blockbuster is nothing short of impressive. Costing much less than its competitor Gamefly, it makes me wonder, what’s the catch?
30-day FREE trial
Blockbuster lets you choose one, two, or three disks for the trial. Why anyone would purposely select anything other than the 3-disk plan is beyond me, but hey some people like their options.
Blockbuster is a one stop shop for entertainment rentals. Featuring countless movies, TV shows, and games the sheer quantity of items in their repertoire is impressive. In terms of games (which is the most important factor in my book), Blockbuster also includes new releases and titles from consoles ranging from Xbox 360 to PS2. Unfortunately I will not be playing any games during this trial.
Apparently, new releases such as RAGE, Dead Island, Resistance 3, and Gears of War 3 will be unavailable for shipment until…December or January of next year! Exactly why Blockbuster is restricting these games, and many others, for over 2 months is beyond a mystery. I can only imagine the limitations pertain to the trial, and hopefully not to full membership. The trial introduced doubts as to Blockbuster’s ability to satisfy a gamer based clientele.
Speed and Delivery
Blockbuster encapsulates efficiency. In a statement presented on the official website:
While we have no control over the U.S. Postal Service, you should receive most rentals within 1-3 business days
Operating using the same Queue functionality as Gamefly, Blockbuster also prioritizes your choices and sends them quickly. Generally, titles are shipped automatically once you have added them to your Queue, generally by the end of the next business day.
While Gamefly only offers services by-mail, Blockbuster provides the flexibility of mail and storefront interactivity. Meaning, members can visit a participating Blockbuster store to exchange by-mail rentals for free in-store rentals.
The Bottom Line
While Blockbuster exhibits a wider array of products, the foundation as a leader in the rental arena, and an inexpensive fee for its services, it in no way stunts Gamefly’s supremacy over the gaming community. For those who prefer a more flexible overall rental company offering a broad range of entertainment, then Blockbuster is a sure bet. For gamers however, Gamefly offers a better inclusive service with a wider assortment of games that is worth the higher price for those who play frequently.