Editorial: We Need A Good Way To Rent Video Games Again

When's the last time you've heard someone say they are going to "rent" a game? As far off as they day seems now, 10 years ago that was still a very common thing to do. Yeah kids, there was once a time where you could just "try" a game for a week and then take it back. You didn't have to make an excuse to an employee about how the game didn't work, nor did you have to argue with Steam representatives for a charge back of the game's value to your card. Hell, it didn't even cost but a fraction of the game's price to try it out!

Unfortunately, all the glory of game rental was not the same for the world of movies. Renting a movie cost about half the price of actually owning the movie, most the movies you wanted were gone because there were only three to four copies of each title, and if you had a late fee longer than a week you might as well skip town because your family is NOT going back there again.

That's why everyone was psyched when Netflix debuted their streaming service. You didn't have to leave your house, had a ton of movies to choose from, and didn't have to worry about late fees. Those who weren't tech saavy enough for a Netflix soon got Redbox and movie store giants like Blockbuster folded and, alongside them, the era of "renting" games.

While movies had Netflix and Redbox, the gaming industry didn't have a solution to allow consumers to keep trying before they bought games. Thats mostly because many of them didn't want the practice to continue. Case and point, Nintendo vs. Blockbuster...

Nintendo (and we would assume other companies) were not fans of the rental system. You wouldn't be too thrilled either if someone could complete your 10-hour game for $7.99 as opposed to the $49.99 they're SUPPOSED TO PAY. So it's no surprise that we are left with the sad state of gaming rentals that remain.

Sure inflation is a factor, but even so $3 a day for a Redbox title is outright insane. In a little over a weeks time, you'll have paid half the price of a game that you could've purchased outright compared to the $14 for a two week rental at Blockbuster in the Xbox 360 era.

And Gamefly? Don't even get me started on Gamefly.

I signed up for Gamefly a while back on the promise that it was the "Netflix of gaming". That couldn't be further from the truth. Let me break down my Gamefly experience for you...

  1. $15 a month
  2. Go to games for my platform
  3. Continue searching because anything 6 months old or less is not available.
  4. Find a game I want
  5. Order game
  6. Wait 6 days for delivery
  7. Get Game

That's not value, that's a hose job. Even if I'm sending games as soon as I get them back in the mail for another at best I'm actually receiving 3 games a month that I'm not playing. I would be shocked if the average user receives more than 2 games a month.

The point I'm trying to make is that renting video games in today's modern era is an illusion. It's no longer fiscally sound or easy to do, and someone needs to fix that.

Especially in this broken era of gaming. How many major titles have we seen in the past year come out broken? Now let's wonder how eager publishers would be to push out broken games if the gaming community had any other option than to buy the game for themselves to see if it's good?

Renting games also makes average games acceptable to play. We live in this crazy era where if a game gets a 7/10 that's considered a "risky buy" and that's just idiotic. Then again, I don't want to buy an average game...WHICH IS WHY I RENTED THEM. Here's a list of games I would've never bought but rented the s*** out of...

  • Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2
  • Timesplitters 3
  • Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2-4
  • Mario Party 2-5
  • Jet Li: Rise To Honor
  • The Matrix Video Game

I would wager to say not many of those games were critically acclaimed, but I loved them for the time that I had them. Not every game is a world beater and there once was a point where that was okay!

Perhaps renting games can make a comeback given the right technology or perhaps we just need to adapt to the new world. Steam still allows chargebacks if you hate a game, and humble bundles and products like the NES Mini allow you to own a bulk of classic titles at a low price so all hope is not lost. That's all for the past though, what about now?