Renting video games has made much more sense in the last two generations of consoles. Since all major home consoles are disc-based and save data on a memory card, a player’s progress is no longer left to the mercy of other rental customers or the attendant at the video store.
Instead of being changed permanently from owner to owner, each copy of a game is the same as the next, barring physical differences between them. Now, the only variable in the equation is the acquisition. Two years ago, people still had to trudge to video store to rent and return games.
But, in 2002, a company started in California with a notion that would end the need for such arduous treks. Gamefly allows players to rent games from the comfort of home, without late fees or shipping fees.
Sound familiar? It should, as Netflix has been doing the same thing for movies for the last six years. While imitation is often called the sincerest form of flattery, Gamefly addresses a specific deficiency in the Netflix business plan: no video game representation. Netflix has been content to be the leader in online movie DVD rental, leaving a void that Gamefly fills in very nicely.
Under the most popular plan, Gamefly allows customers to maintain a list of games to rent (referred to as “the Q”) while allowing two games to be simultaneously checked out for twenty-two dollars. The most expensive rental plan comes in at just under thirty dollars, and allows for three games at the same time.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, players can rent a single game a month for less than fifteen dollars. The player also has the option of buying a rented game. In this instance, the game’s case and instructional manual will be mailed out, along with the next game in the Q.
As with any finite resource, inevitably there’s going to be more demand than supply. With Gamefly, if all the copies of a game are checked out, they simply wait for another copy to become available, instead of shipping the next game in the Q. It may lengthen wait times for a particular game experience, but it’s certainly better than getting another game shipped and having to wait even longer for the desired game.
That’s the theory behind Gamefly, and it holds up in execution. There’s a wide variety in game choices; from the newest releases to older games, there are no arguments with the selection. Gamefly covers Playstation2, Xbox, Gamecube, Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance, and the PSP (PlayStation Portable), so if you’ve got any of the current systems, you can play the games you want.
The games themselves are well maintained. Of all the games that I’ve personally received, not a single one has ever had a problem playing. While not as speedy in shipping as Netflix, the wait times are certainly bearable. Once more shipping stations are established, the times will definitely improve.
Gamefly’s customer service is also top-notch. I’ll illustrate with a personal example. I was in the process of moving, and a lot of my mail ended up getting returned to the senders. I straightened out the problem with the post office quickly, and I began receiving regular mail once again.
But for some unknown reason, all the games from Gamefly where still being returned before reaching my mailing address. After contacting the post office again, I called Gamefly to resolve any issues on their end. Not only was service restored with no further problems, they also credited me with the time that I was paying for the service without enjoying any games. Truly, that is customer service in action.
The idea behind Gamefly is perfectly sound. And just as importantly, the service doesn’t disappoint in application. Gamefly may not be a necessity for everyone, particularly not for the players who like to keep games after finishing them. While purchase of the rented games is possible, I’m willing to bet that most people who like to keep games would just as soon buy it new.
If you are the type of player who has no problem parting with games after they’ve been completed, Gamefly’s service is a perfect fit. With a good two-game plan costing just over twenty-one dollars, the price is excellent for those who want to try a wide variety of games and keep some dollars on hand to buy games they actually like.
With today’s games generally falling into either the category of being engrossing epics or being fairly short pieces of brain candy, being able to rent and keep the games for as long as necessary provides wonderful flexibility. Gamefly is a great service for gamers who want variety without getting saddled with games that might not get played again.