GameFly revitalizes game rentals and helps innovate game availability

Nathan Mendelowitz

Renting games has been a big part of the gaming industry since being able to rent Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo games at Blockbuster and Hollywood Video beginning in 1987.

However, in recent years with the collapse of both Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, renting games seemed lost. Then GameFly arrived, a gaming website dedicated to mailing out games for rent and brought rental games back to life.

GameFly began in 2002 offering games to rent for the Playstation 2, Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube. As the years went on, the stock grew to include handheld games and now offers games for all home consoles and handheld systems.

With more than 8,000 titles in stock, GameFly offers almost any game released in the last five years for rent.

Subscriptions are free for the first month for all new users and move into a price range of $15.95 for one game or $22.95 for two.

If gamers decide on the two-game plan, that averages out to buying a new game every three months. This isn’t a bad deal at all and subscribers can hold on to the games they chose for as long as they want or change them out.

Another bonus is subscribers can buy the games they rent for a discounted price since all games are used.

However, there are some negative sides of GameFly.

Since these are only rentals, games requiring online passes to play multiplayer do not come with the code that a new game would. Since they are technically used games, no one gets to use the online pass because the passes are only free if a person buys the game.

If gamers want to, they have to buy an online pass or just buy the game.

The major problem though, is even with more than 8,000 titles, the big-name games are not always available for rent.

GameFly only receives a limited amount of each game. So, when thousands of people want to play it, obviously there are going to be people left out. It can take longer than a month to get a game one would want to play because it is in such high demand.

The only way to ensure getting a big title is to pick the game while it’s months away from release.

Gamefly also provides other services than game rentals.

After acquiring Direct2Drive, GameFly offers instant PC game downloads. This broadens the scope of subscribers and it’s also free with any subscription plan.

Being able to stream a game instantly is great and is an obvious step in the next evolution of gaming.

Getting rid of the postal fees and hassle of mailing out games will make it a more cost-effective service.

The other benefit is subscribers would not have to wait for a title to be available. Everyone can play the game they want at any time.

Unfortunately, this service is more likely just a pipe dream for gamers.

The problem is most consoles have a service for people to download games. It doesn’t seem like Microsoft or Sony would allow GameFly to step on their boundaries since it’s a service that makes those companies money.

It’s unfortunate because GameFly has made it easy for gamers to enjoy different types of games not worth buying but still are fun to play.

Even with it difficult to get a big-title game, the idea that one could get any game makes it a service worth looking at.