GameFly Rental Service Review

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Company: GameFly
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Simply put, GameFly is a positively ideal game rental service for a very specific type of gamer. Unfortunately, I'm not that gamer, and I don't know anyone who is. If you like to play single-player games that have been out for a few months (and play enough of them such that it's not cheaper to purchase old, used games), then GameFly can be a worthwhile service. If you play seldom and casually, love to play in-depth games extensively and to exhaustion, really enjoy multiplayer action (or certain downloadable content) or just want to play the very latest games, GameFly won't meet your needs as well as the alternatives.

Kyle Ackerman

The biggest strength of the service was the quality of the game discs. Perhaps I was fortunate and my experience was exceptional, but the discs were always in good condition and played without incident. The delivery time for games was slower than comparable movie-by-mail services (such as Netflix), but I would generally receive another game around a week after I put the previous game in the mail, so I could consistently count on getting something in the mail relatively soon.

Nothing New Inside the Envelope

The biggest issue with GameFly relates to new games. I presume that someone must receive game rentals within two months of release, but I haven't met them. This isn't a critical issue with movie rentals (unless you have a truly cutthroat water-cooler), but is seriously important for online multiplayer games. Eight weeks after release, most games' multiplayer play is either a ghost town, or other players have practiced to the extent where it requires a serious commitment to join the fun. For those online games with serious longevity (say... Halo 3), you're better off just picking up a copy and settling in for the long term than you'd be renting the game for a couple of months. And what's the fun of starting up the matchmaking screen to sit and wait for someone... anyone... to join.

GameFly strongly recommends that you keep at least 10 games in your rental queue to ensure that you receive something. I tried populating the list with newer releases (at the time of the test, I filled the queue with eight quality recent releases), and the service was simply unable to send any games for a while. Again, if I wanted old games (or really bad games), GameFly was able to deliver without a problem.

How Much Do You Play?

An important issue to consider before renting from GameFly is, how much time do you spend playing games in a month? GameFly's plan that allows you to have one game out at a time costs $16 per month, and to have two games out at a time costs $23 per month. If you only have the time to play the occasional hour or two, especially given the roughly one-week turnaround time to get a new game, you are better off purchasing an old game at a deep discount, a "greatest hits"-type title or a current game with a lot of multiplayer-longevity. If you enjoy cranking through the single-player portion of a few full games and have the time to devote to doing so, the GameFly two-game plan should work for you.

The GameFly site is slick, and offers plenty of community oriented features to allow you to customize your rental experience, search for games, and manipulate your rental queue. But if you are looking for extensive support from human beings rather than the online support offered by the website, GameFly also falls short there. Frankly, most companies do, because real human support is expensive, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating if you have a problem.

GameFly is a Combatant in a Battle With Publishers

You should also take into consideration the changing game space. Companies are changing the way they sell games to take into account the growing used-game and rental markets. Publishers are increasingly including codes to unlock special downloads, or releasing additional content on a regular and occasional basis. Any such codes that are only good for the original purchaser, or downloads that encourage you to hold onto a game for months at a time, aren't compatible with renting the game.

Once again, if you plan to regularly play a lot of single-player games that are at least a few months old, you'll get your value out of GameFly. Otherwise, you would be best served by considering other options.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 18, 2009 9:34 AM.

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