301: No Later Than Monday

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No Later Than Monday

How rental stores enabled one gamer to play through a lay-off and recession, and why the looming extinction of such stores is bad news for consumers.

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I can definitely see where the rental would be much better than purchase. And, if you really enjoy the game and want to partake in the multiplayer aspect, you could always pick it up used a bit later as well (though not if EA has anything to say about it, from what I'm hearing).

I, however, never had much luck with renting games. When it was N64 and Sega Genesis cartridges, yeah, everything went well. You can't really scratch a cartridge. CDs though? I have never seen more mistreated games than when I would rent Playstation 2 games. I was simply appalled at how poorly people treated this property that didn't even belong to them. It definitely turned me off of the concept of rentals.

Yeah it's sad seeing all the empty spots those rental joints use to occupy. Worst part is that the big internet providers are trying to destroy Net Neutrality so companies like Netflix, Youtube and Onlive may be prevented from existing in the future.

When I was a kid, the only way to play "new" games (not so much new releases, just new to us) was to get them for a birthday or Christmas gift, to borrow from friends or to go to the rental store. It truly was an experience of discovery, where the slightest interesting bit of box art was enough to get you a new game to play for a few days. In fact, being able to rent games was how I discovered some of my favorite games of all time. I would never have played Godzilla: Monster of Monsters as a kid if we didn't see it on a rental store's shelf. My siblings and I stood in shock as we saw Final Fantasy II, a 16-bit sequel to one of our favorite NES games, on display. My curious mind picked up a copy of Harvest Moon, only to literally lose a week of my summer vacation to the game (time never passed by so quickly as that one week). EarthBound, Princess Tomato, Bionic Commando, heck, renting Donkey Kong Country 3 saved me from purchasing one of the worst games in the franchise. I remember going back to the rental store for three or four weeks trying to get Star Fox, only for it to have been taken each time. Finally getting the chance to rent it was one of the happiest moments in my gaming life.

It's just not the same anymore. When you're an adult, you actually have the option to buy these games. However, because it's your money, you become much more careful as to what to spend it on. Game trailers are watched. Screen shots are viewed. Hype is absorbed. The only games I end up not knowing about when I examine store shelves are the shovelware or "let's try and get girls into gaming" make-up and pet simulations. I never find anything amazing by accident anymore, or so it feels.

GameFly is a decent enough service, but it's not perfect. It's more like the bargain-bin article that was mentioned, where all the latest and greatest games are instantly taken day of release, forcing you to sift through month or year old games so you can justify the monthly subscription. Yet the amount of time it takes these games to ship combined with a relatively hefty cost, and it becomes uncertain whether that $14-$21 a month cost is really saving any money.

In the end, I think technology has done us gamers favors, but it has also been a detriment. There's no surprises anymore, we get to see entire games before they even hit store shelves, and our minds are made up for us before we even know what it is we want. The rental store was a product of little money and even less information (even if you had a Nintendo Power the amount of coverage was limited). Now information is everywhere and so many of us have grown up with the hobby, sacrificing other luxuries (screw you designer jeans! I'm happy with my $20 pair from K-Mart!) for the sake of the brand new game (speaking of K-Mart, greatest place to purchase a new system. NO ONE showed up for the 3DS but me). All that magic, well, it's lost.

On an optimistic note, however, there's still a chance for some of these experiences to thrive. I picked up Viking: Battle for Asgard on the cheap, expecting it to be a terrible game, and it ended up being surprisingly fun. I've tried game demos that I expected to be lame only to replay them over and over, anticipating the game's actual release day. Surprises can still be found, but the manner is still different.

It just won't be the same as that surprise rental.

Sneh, as far as games go, this doesn't get much sympathy from me. I hated Blockbuster. The rental prices for games at any of the ones I saw were $12, and that was for old titles that I could outright buy on Amazon for $20. Their selection also sucked.
Spontaneity in purchases is overrated and often leads to buyers (or renters) remorse more often than a great discovery.

That, and having been 95% a PC gamer for the past decade or more, this hasn't factored in to my life since the days of SNES.

I do however lament the loss of these stores for movies. Netflix streaming is getting better, but is still missing most of the best titles out there (although it seems to be just great if all you want to watch are terrible straight-to-dvd b movies).
The freedom to be able to say "hey, I want to watch THIS movie RIGHT NOW" and then run out and grab it at the store was fantastic. Now, unless you're lucky and can find it streaming (or rich and don't mind paying for On-demand all the time), you have to wait several days for it to come in the mail at best.

I will concede that browsing through physical items is a task that I am starting to miss. Browsing through stuff online just is not the same. Plus you're right -- all our online experiences are specifically tailored to our narrow likes and dislikes, so it becomes increasingly difficult to stumble upon something you might enjoy that is outside the normal parameters.

it is truly sad to see these services go so soon :(

they were a big part of my childhood, and now they're gone. and all in favor of "get out your credit card and pay by the month" mentality.

whatever happened to scrimping and scramping to save a few bucks to finally walk into a store and take a physical copy home with you?

Rigs83:
Yeah it's sad seeing all the empty spots those rental joints use to occupy. Worst part is that the big internet providers are trying to destroy Net Neutrality so companies like Netflix, Youtube and Onlive may be prevented from existing in the future.

I doubt that Netflix, Youtube or Onlive would ever be wiped out from the internet. Youtube is owned by Google which is probably the biggest internet provider in all the world. Along that, Netflix is expanding with a wide range of customers who watch their favorite movies and shows constantly like my Dad.
Not to mention that to prevent their function of existing is futile, because they are always needed or liked to a degree of being well-known. So internet providers can never destory the Net Neutrality, but only delay it if they become that successful.

Not to mention that the empty spots those rental joints have are only for those who live near it. We're fortunate to now have places like GameFly to rent games for only $7.95 by mail. However, to buy a game for the price of $60.00 plus tax isn't something to take lightly. To understand this man, you must know how he feels about his subscription being cut off. Which isn't a bad thing, it made him realize that he's been missing out on games thus thanks to him, we now take note about the stores like Blockbuster being 45 miles away since the rental joints are being wiped out in some cases.

Sigh. I feel much the same way. My time and money is limited and the opportunity to just try something unusual is just a bit more blunted now.

XxRyanxX:

Rigs83:
Yeah it's sad seeing all the empty spots those rental joints use to occupy. Worst part is that the big internet providers are trying to destroy Net Neutrality so companies like Netflix, Youtube and Onlive may be prevented from existing in the future.

I doubt that Netflix, Youtube or Onlive would ever be wiped out from the internet. Youtube is owned by Google which is probably the biggest internet provider in all the world. Along that, Netflix is expanding with a wide range of customers who watch their favorite movies and shows constantly like my Dad.
Not to mention that to prevent their function of existing is futile, because they are always needed or liked to a degree of being well-known. So internet providers can never destory the Net Neutrality, but only delay it if they become that successful.

Not to mention that the empty spots those rental joints have are only for those who live near it. We're fortunate to now have places like GameFly to rent games for only $7.95 by mail. However, to buy a game for the price of $60.00 plus tax isn't something to take lightly. To understand this man, you must know how he feels about his subscription being cut off. Which isn't a bad thing, it made him realize that he's been missing out on games thus thanks to him, we now take note about the stores like Blockbuster being 45 miles away since the rental joints are being wiped out in some cases.

I am not worried about Youtube, Netflix or Onlive (I use them as examples of innovative companies that exist now) because they were created now in the time of Net Neutrality I am worried what will happen to the next entrepreneurs that will not be able to compete with established entities that can manipulate the bandwidth to their advantage.

Rigs83:

XxRyanxX:

Rigs83:
Yeah it's sad seeing all the empty spots those rental joints use to occupy. Worst part is that the big internet providers are trying to destroy Net Neutrality so companies like Netflix, Youtube and Onlive may be prevented from existing in the future.

I doubt that Netflix, Youtube or Onlive would ever be wiped out from the internet. Youtube is owned by Google which is probably the biggest internet provider in all the world. Along that, Netflix is expanding with a wide range of customers who watch their favorite movies and shows constantly like my Dad.
Not to mention that to prevent their function of existing is futile, because they are always needed or liked to a degree of being well-known. So internet providers can never destory the Net Neutrality, but only delay it if they become that successful.

Not to mention that the empty spots those rental joints have are only for those who live near it. We're fortunate to now have places like GameFly to rent games for only $7.95 by mail. However, to buy a game for the price of $60.00 plus tax isn't something to take lightly. To understand this man, you must know how he feels about his subscription being cut off. Which isn't a bad thing, it made him realize that he's been missing out on games thus thanks to him, we now take note about the stores like Blockbuster being 45 miles away since the rental joints are being wiped out in some cases.

I am not worried about Youtube, Netflix or Onlive (I use them as examples of innovative companies that exist now) because they were created now in the time of Net Neutrality I am worried what will happen to the next entrepreneurs that will not be able to compete with established entities that can manipulate the bandwidth to their advantage.

Here's the thing. Net Neutrality is a practice that hasn't been codified into law. There's nothing right now that actually stops an ISP from just stopping all of a specific type of traffic, except potential threats from entities. I'm worried that companies will actually decide they don't actually need to be fair anymore, because who's going to compete against them.

It gets even worse in North Carolina, with the State bill that would make a municipality ISP illegal. That's another story, and I think that should be told mostly though the staff who actually live near there, as opposed to me. I'll just be visiting.

So, did you guys know that there is a 1-week, FULL refund policy when buying used games at Gamestop? No strings attached. So it is like renting a game at blockbuster, except you get a better selection, for a longer rental time, and for absolutely free.

Knowing this makes this article irrelevant. At least until Gamestop discontinues this policy because, apparently, I blew their secret wide open.

I recently discovered that Redbox is now renting video games as well.....for $1 a day. I currently still have blockbuster online which sends me out games and movies regularly and even have netflix (because blockbuster does not have as many shows...like rules of engagement season 3) but my wife has a tendency to take forever to watch and return movies.

So the other day I decided to try a redbox. I see them all over and it's just $1 to grab a movie if your going to watch it that day.

I grabbed "How do you know" and watched it, returning it the next day. The experience was easy and very cheap. In the process though I noticed that the little red box also rents video games for $1 a day as well.

Now I also have played games my whole life....I used to be a gamefly member for years and I have a video game library of over a thousand. I have rented from blockbuster and hollywood video and many other sources as well. I have never been able to try a game out for $1 before though.

I must say that when renting it's often very hit or miss. The best games you pretty much know are going to be good. I generally just buy them in fact. Quite often I spend only a few hours on rentals before sending them back. With blockbuster online that is a week long process though. They get a previous title from me, check it in, find a new title and then ship it to me which takes a good week to do. If the game blew that really is annoying, wasting both time and money.

On the other hand the red box lets you try a game out for $1...and then if you like it pay $1 a day for it until your done. That could of course add up if you end up playing the game for a month, but for the spontinaity you are talking about it's great.

The selection at my redbox at least isn't that huge yet, but if it continues to expand I will probably usually try games out with redbox and then only add them to my blockbuster Que if I want to play it for more then a few days.

Blockbuster really charged WAY to much for video game rentals in my opinion (directly from the store at least). I get a free rental per month as party of my blockbuster account which I generally used but rarely would I pay full price for a game rental at blockbuster (pretty much only when a game I knew I wanted, but also knew wouldn't last long, was available on launch day at blockbuster...saving me $50 or so).

I am also sad to see gamecrazy/hollywood video and blockbuster go away, but I think the day sof expensive week long rentals are going away...and that at least is a good thing. Too many games now adays totally blow chucks and are a total waste to buy and if we start being able to try most games out before buying them....well I think that will help the quality of games over all.

agreed as far as AAA gaming is concerned, but think about what $7 buys you now. Go onto XBLA or Steam and look at the indie titles available. These didn't exist anywhere but in the fevered imaginings of children in a schoolyard when BlockBuster was still big.

Instead of going out to rent brown n' bloom 17, buy Limbo. Buy Braid. Buy Minecraft. Buy some game you've never heard of by a developer that didn't exist last year. I think you'll find that the exploration is still there, it just moved and more people are doing it now.

Spontaneity isn't dead. Far from it. With my streaming Netflix subscription and Amazon Prime membership, I can watch thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost at will with no advance effort required. (Granted, most of them aren't worth watching, but that's a whole different conversation.) Add to that Pay-per-View through my cable and there are even more (and more recent) choices.

It's easy to browse any genre I want, to search by actor or director or if I have a particular film in mind, all I need to do is type in the title. Netflix will even make recommendations for me based on correlating recommendations by its other subscribers. It's not perfect, but I've found a couple of goodies I might have otherwise missed.

Does this work for video games? No. Or rather, not yet. There are a number of online videogame rental services in the pipeline and I'd wager that within ten years (and probably sooner), I'll be able to browse hundreds of releases for my Xbox Next or PS4, and download and play them on demand for a fixed period of time for a nominal fee. Recent AAA titles? Probably not. But a solid "A" game from last holiday season? Count on it.

CyanideDream:
So, did you guys know that there is a 1-week, FULL refund policy when buying used games at Gamestop? No strings attached. So it is like renting a game at blockbuster, except you get a better selection, for a longer rental time, and for absolutely free.

Knowing this makes this article irrelevant. At least until Gamestop discontinues this policy because, apparently, I blew their secret wide open.

Unless you don't happen to have a GameStop near you. Or if they don't have the game you want to try.

Ah I remember Blockbuster from back in my PS2 days. So many rentals, so much fun.

I'm sad that renting stores are going away, I also seem to play games I rent more thoroughly than games I buy because I rent for two weeks and at the end of the two weeks I feel if I haven't gotten everything in the game I'm missing out on content that I may never get again. If I own the game, I just tell myself to get that one gold start or coin later, and then I tell myself that again at said later time, and again, and again etc.

I agree with the other commenters that Gamefly isn't exactly a satisfactory replacement for the local rental place. I don't mind renting older games; I'm a big public library users so I'm accustomed to older everything :-). However, their delivery is SO slow it is painful. Perhaps it wouldn't bother me so much if I hadn't become accustomed to the speedy service of Netflix over the years. I can put a Gamefly game and a Netflix movie in the mailbox to be returned on a Monday. By Wednesday or Thursday I will have a new Netflix disc, where as I'll be lucky if I get a new Gamefly game by Saturday. That's frustrating when you only get to play on weekends.

An interesting read as always, I agree that it is a shame that alot of these stores are going away and unfortunately for people like myself its convenience that rules over a purchase of an item sometimes.

Myself, just like the very many others will rather spend out on that 4.95 delivery cost than waste an entire day traveling somewhere to waste time only to find out that it's not in stock but it is just in another town.

Then to this though I feel like its a shame sometimes that it doesn't happen like this, I remember the days of traveling to "Game" or "Electronics Boutique" (I live in the UK) as a kid looking for the holy grail PS1 or PC games, searching for the only copy that actually had a case that was not cracked or had the manual.

Convenience will always rule over all unfortunately, this is shown in companies and the little people will suffer, more and more we are becoming the digital age that we all looked forward too, bluray disks, SDXC Memory cards that hold up to 2TB, whats next..?

Only time will tell, hopefully I shall be typing still in the future rather than thinking it, but one thing that will always be around if you do play a game, 12 year old RAGEquitting german kids lol..

Lucky for me the library in my town still has game rental 1 dollar for two weeks, No joking, One dollar TWO weeks :P

soo yea i gave up on Blockbuster since i was like 7, the only advantage they had over the library was new release sooner

Sucks for every one else tho

As a gamer whose parents could only afford to buy me my Mega Drive games at birthday and xmas, rental was how I gamed and I played so many varied titles I never if I only bought them.

However as someone has just described, Steam sales and deals like the humble indie bundle still allow me to impluse buy. So many gamers think that PC gaming is expensive but it really is not, its actually cheaper then console gaming (no im not talking about piracy).

A moment for the dear departed. Netflix is better about it than Gamefly for spontaneity, mostly because they can stream media. Games are still affixed to disc and cartridge, and can't just be had at whim. Maybe we'll see a resurgence, or that the online companies will pick up the slack of the retailers. Blockbuster had a great idea with the combination, but I fear they started far too late to survive.

I'm glad game rentals were able to keep you playing during tough times...I've been where you are.

But where I live it's 9 dollars to rent a game for 1 day.

1 DAY.

It's cheaper for me to go to my used gaming store, grab a few last gen titles for under $30 total, and have them last me for a few months.

ccesarano:
When I was a kid, the only way to play "new" games (not so much new releases, just new to us) was to get them for a birthday or Christmas gift, to borrow from friends or to go to the rental store. It truly was an experience of discovery, where the slightest interesting bit of box art was enough to get you a new game to play for a few days. In fact, being able to rent games was how I discovered some of my favorite games of all time. I would never have played Godzilla: Monster of Monsters as a kid if we didn't see it on a rental store's shelf. My siblings and I stood in shock as we saw Final Fantasy II, a 16-bit sequel to one of our favorite NES games, on display. My curious mind picked up a copy of Harvest Moon, only to literally lose a week of my summer vacation to the game (time never passed by so quickly as that one week). EarthBound, Princess Tomato, Bionic Commando, heck, renting Donkey Kong Country 3 saved me from purchasing one of the worst games in the franchise. I remember going back to the rental store for three or four weeks trying to get Star Fox, only for it to have been taken each time. Finally getting the chance to rent it was one of the happiest moments in my gaming life.

Ignoring the string of titles, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Renting was an integral part of my childhood. Though I can no longer remember exactly which titles I rented over the years, each one was a true joy. Every Friday, my mother would drive me to Blockbuster, and I'd have to pick a game while she picked a movie. And this was back when Rentals were only for 2 days, so whatever I picked I either sat in front of the TV and played all weekend, or I'd end up renting it the next week, praying my save didn't get copied over. I believe we stopped renting around when the PS2 and GameCube came out, all over some late fee dispute my parents weren't willing to let go. Ever since, the only time I'd step foot inside a Rental Store was when Game Crazy was still around. I've long since considered joining GameFly, but with no stable income, I couldn't exactly justify the expense.

Man, saying I bought one game for every twenty games I rented it would be a conservative estimate. Renting has always been my main source of games. Back when I was in college, I found a rental place that due to what I assume was a rounding error would let me rent a game on Thursday and return it Monday for two days' rent. It was right next to the bus stop I got off when I got back from college, so it was ridiculously convenient. I think gaming is what I really did when I was in college. I sure as hell wasn't getting laid.

Recently the Brazilian version of Gamefly went bankrupt and I now have to buy games if I want to play them, which I usually do used since I'm about two years behind the trends anyway. (Just finished Mass Effect 2, whoo!) Moneterialy speaking, it's about the same, only harder because I have to contact buyers and stuff. But the thing that made me the saddest is that I won't play bad games any more. I mean, having played Too Human to see if it was that bad for myself is something I take pride of, and I won't be doing it any more. How will I know what's great if I don't also see the mediocre?

Your name is familiar...

So is the degree you've completed...

Good article to start off on. Here's to many more!

I could never get around the fact that I could buy most of the games used, that the rental places around here had, for close to and in some cases even less than it cost to rent them! It is rare for me to pay $20 for games for my Xbox 360. I always wait until I can pick them up used online or at the local used item store (pawn shop). Most I purchase in the $6 - $10 range. So I am not sad to see the rental places going out of business.

thinking money instead of experience is what keeps you from living in the future.

I had a very similar experience a few years back. I moved out of state for a job several months before my family could move. I suddenly found myself without wife and kids in a new state with a TV, a 360, and not much else. I picked up a gamepass from BB, which was about $25 for two games at a time, unlimited uses. I could drive by BB on the way home, pick up two games, go home and play for a few hours, and, if I didn't like them, get two more the next day. I found gems I never would have consideted, even from Gamefly. Two days each way is a lot of time to give to a game you've got doubts about

But the drive home? No problem. It sucked to miss my wife and kids, but it was, as the story, really eye opening for gaming. It also got me deeply back in to board games.

Dhatz:
thinking money instead of experience is what keeps you from living in the future.

Care to elaborate?

Meh. I'd rather support my local brick and mortar rental store, who's prices are exceptionally better ($1.75 for one night; $3 for 3 nights (awesome)).

You can still rent games you silly billy. Play-N-Trade offers rentals (most of them anyway...as far as I know). Redbox is another, some of them offer games. Gamefly, the Netflix for game players. There's also Gamestop although it's a bit different for them. For gamestop, you buy a used game, play it then before those first 7 days are up, you take it back with the receipt for a full refund or another 'rental'. Just make sure you get it back before day 7...Also, I'm about 80% sure you can return merchandise from one store at another one, making the 'rental process' easier.

I worked at a Blockbuster for a while and once we got back a brand new rental game disc that was scratched to hell and back. I was convinced that some little shits had decided they didn't like it, rubbed it on the floor and got Mommy to return it saying that it didn't work so they could get another one.

I thought renting videogames would be a feasible solution to my usual gluttony without having to shell out 60€ every time I wanted to play something, but the only shop I've got near my house is a Game, which only admits games to be returned in business hours, Monday to Saturday, it's 15 minutes away from my home and it charges 3€ for the first day, 2 for every one following the first. So I decided that I'd be better keeping my fucking gluttony for myself lest I want to burn all my salary into rentals.

But I feel for you. It's gotta be tough to lose it, if it wasn't a freaking abuse.

God I remember renting from Blockbuster every week when I spent the summer at my sisters place. Always such a joy. The Blockbuster was also AC'd so after the long walk in the sun to get there it was paradise <3

Now I go to a local video rental place, Willows. It's much nicer then Blockbuster, and has way more games available then the local Blockbuster. But it saddens me to think kids out there won't get to enjoy summer quite like I did. Also its hella a lot cheaper then Blockbuster. 2 games for a week. One 'old' release (what they define as old) and one 'new' release (again, they pick whats old or new) or $10CAD. They also still have PS2 and Gamecube games for rent. As well as DS games. Majority of the games I've played on my PS3 I rented from there as the PS3 has way to many games I don't wanna spend $60 on :P

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