Rent Games Online

Gamefly: Better Than Renting Locally?

by on Oct.28, 2010, under Gamefly

Written by Podunker:The Liztress and rrquinta

With the economy being in the condition it is, it can be hard for a gamer to play new releases or even a few classics without hurting their wallets. As holiday releases draw near, gamers always have the option to buy pre-owned games, but even that can add up, as the newest games are either not available used or offer very little savings. The next logical option is game rentals. Time has seen rental memberships evolve from renting a game for $5 to $10 each for a few days and hoping to get them back before that late fee is tacked on, to now being able to rent multiple games without the worry of returning them until you’re ready. While you can still visit your local video game rental store, another alternative has made its way into gamers’ lives: online rental services, like NetFlix, but for games.

If you use the internet and play games on a regular basis, then chances are you’ve heard of GameFly. The Los Angeles-based business has been renting video games online since 2002. They offer over 7000 titles from all the current- (and even some last-) generation consoles and handhelds. With four distribution centers (based in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Austin, and Tampa), most gamers will receive a game from their GameQ in 2 to 4 days, depending on which center sends it and how close you are to that location. In fact, depending on your post office and how well they work with GameFly, it is possible to get the next game on your list even before the one you returned makes its way to their warehouse. But does GameFly’s service beat the perks of going to your local Blockbuster or other game rental store?

With brick-and-mortar stores, you have the ability to take your game home to play right away, but normally have only the latest releases to choose from. Blockbuster does offer a similar service as GameFly, where you can rent an unlimited amount of games for as long as you like for one monthly fee. Because stores focus on newer titles, you might have a higher chance of renting the game you want when you want to, without having a long wait. An added bonus of using a store over GameFly is the fact that you don’t have to worry about your game being lost or damaged in the mail. What if you’re a fan of the popular Rock Band and Guitar Hero games but don’t have your own guitar or drum set? With most stores, this is no problem. You can rent the game, complete with the accessories, for an extra amount of money, depending on the store’s policy. Some stores will even rent you game consoles or other peripherals, so no game is off-limits, as long as they carry it.

However, local stores do have their problems. One downside to brick-and-mortar game rental stores is the price of the monthly fee. The cost of renting one game at a time can be as much as the two-games plan at GameFly. If you want to rent more than one game at a time, the price can jump even higher. Because stores focus on newer releases, if you’re looking for a game such as Madden 07 or Tales of the Abyss, for example, you might be hard pressed to find a copy there. If you like DS games and rent one from a store, you won’t likely be able to buy the copy of the game you rented if you really enjoy it, which means the saved game on the cartridge will be gone once you return it.

GameFly doesn’t charge a fee for each game you rent, and the monthly fee is a good deal, especially depending on how many games you rent each month. They also have a wide selection of games. When they ship a game to your house, they send an email to you to let you know about it, as well as notifying you when they receive the game you returned. Whereas brick-and-mortar stores tend to favor the newer generation of consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii), GameFly has those hard-to-find GameCube and Gameboy Advance games as well. Also, it is easier to find that game you meant to try out four years ago but couldn’t. The “Keep It” feature, though not available on every title, is great if you rent a game that you might have trouble finding (at a decent price, if at all), or for a DS title where you lose your saved data when you return it. Another nice perk are coupons and discounts you get for being a member. Currently, GameFly offers three levels, each with their own special rewards. Level one rewards you with a $5 off coupon, level two rewards you with 5% off game purchases and level one’s reward, and level three gives you 10% off game purchases and level one’s reward. These coupons and discounts apply to both “keep it” as well as any games purchased from their used game store. You will receive the $5 coupons every three months, and they do expire, but you can combine them on one game to really rack up the savings. GameFly’s website offers other perks for their members, such as the ability to use GameFly from your cell phone and five free music downloads each month.

But GameFly isn’t without its faults. Depending on how popular the game is that you want, it could be weeks to months before you receive a copy. On a personal note, it took me two months to get a copy of Fight Night Round 4, even though I had listed it at the top of my queue. While the delivery time frame is only two to four days, it still means you can’t play the game when you might want to. They don’t just go by what order you have it on your queue but also by the availability of the title and who has waited the longest for it. There is also the small problem that GameFly has been having with the USPS concerning the handling of their shipments. While I have yet to experience any of the rumored mishaps (the envelopes not receiving the same treatment as Netflix and employees stealing the games), it is possible to receive a broken disc or even no game at all. (However, GameFly is usually quick to remedy any problems you may have, including lost games.) Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, where you could rent Rock Band complete with guitar, drums, and a microphone, with GameFly, this is not possible. They only rent out the game itself, and unless you have the gear at your house, it might not do much good to rent the game at all.

If you wander over to GameFly’s website you should notice the well organized layout with sections for the top-ten member-rated games, game videos, a small snapshot of your queue, and links to their store and a blog of articles by Geoff Keighley. The articles cover recent releases and upcoming ones. You can also trade in your old games, but only if you’ve been a member for three months. While some trade-in values seem reasonable (especially for) newer releases, some games, such as Disgaea: Hour of Darkness will only fetch you $3.

So is GameFly “better” than using a local rental service? Obviously, the choice is up to you. For me, the price of having two games out at one time ($22.95 a month) is a bargain. I’ve had a membership for Blockbuster before. While it was great to be able to play whatever game caught my eye as soon as I paid the store and made my way home, the return dates and fee for each individual game turned me off to renting games for years. Then I decided to try GameFly and see if the service was as good as my friends had told me. Yes, the selection of games at my fingertips made me giddy (while there are tons of games I would love to own, renting is easier on my wallet) but I would be happier to see games take less time to arrive. Currently, GameFly is looking to expand its warehouses, so someday you may be able to get a game the day after you send the previous one back, as well as having less of a wait for rare or in-demand titles. Overall, my experience with GameFly has been pleasant and one I plan on continuing for as long as I can.

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