Gamefly Video Game Rental Service: A Review

It sucks.
Here’s the thing … we’ve seen their commercials, you know the ones where people are throwing absolute shit fits, pounding couches, punching doors, pulling their own hair all in Peckinpah-like slow motions; the tag-line: “Never buy a bad game again.”

Yeah … that’s me. So, I always try to rent a game before I buy it. Unfortunately, at my local Hollywood Video, their game titles are woefully underrepresented … or they are always out. Gamefly! Perfect solution. It’s just like Netflix except for video games. Yeah, right. Netflix is to Hollywood Video as Gamefly is to this guy I know down the block who’s got like a shitload of stuff in his garage.

I signed up two months ago, each time I mailed in a game it took at least a week to get the next one. The last game I dropped in the mail was last Monday and when I checked my queue earlier tonight, they hadn’t even shipped the next one yet. That and I’ve had the same game at the top of my queue for a month; I’ve received number two in my list twice.

So you see … this is kind of defeating the purpose of convenience. $15 a month for at most two games a month, unless I play each for an hour before mailing it back, … and then it wouldn’t even be the one I wanted to play anyway … is too rich for my blood.

IIRC netflix ended up getting semi succesfully sued over this type of slow turnaround.

Yeah, I tried Gamefly… TWICE. The first time I gave it up because I had to pick some things to give up for a while for cash flow reasons. It was super easy to pick Gamefly because it was glacially slow. A couple years later I figured it might have improved like netflix did. No such luck. Second time around lasted about 2 months before I gave it the ol’ heave ho. Never again.

What Netflix got sued for, in a class-action lawsuit, was throttling the accounts of high-volume users. If you tended to turn your movies around quickly and go through a lot of movies, Netflix would place your new movies on lower priority, and would give higher priority to people who returned movies more slowly. The reason the class action suit was successful, i believe, is that this throttling of high-volume customers had never been disclosed in the Terms and Conditions of Netflix membership.

Whether Gamefly could be sued for slow turnaround probably depends on what sort of commitments they make, and what sort of terms and conditions they set when you join the service.

Blockbuster is supposed to open up their version of GameFly sometime soon.

I also gave up on Gamefly due to slow turnaround times. At first, they were really fast, like if I sent a game on Monday, I’d have a new one by Friday. But after I had it for a while, it got to ridiculous times, up to two weeks from when I’d send a game back and get the next. That’s just useless.

To be honest, even that’s pretty poor turnaround time, unless you are in a remote area where mail service is slow.

I’ve been a member of Netflix in both Baltimore and San Diego, and in most cases, if i get a DVD in the mailbox before final pickup on Monday, i will have a new one in my mailbox on Wednesday. One day there, one day back.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a thread like this for awhile now…

I’ve been a longtime off and on member of Gamefly, first signed up in December of 2003, and have never been completely happy with the service. Turn around times can be atrocious. When I first signed up they had a single distribution facility somewhere in California. Unless you were in the area it could take up to a week for them to receive a game and another week to mail you another one. Since that time they’ve opened three more in Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida and shipping times have gotten better. I lucked out in that I happen to live very close to the one in Florida and can usually drop a game in the mail and they’ll receive it the next day.

The biggest problem I have is that they never order enough copies of new or popular games. If you want something that’s coming out soon you better have a game in the mail a few days before the release date, otherwise you’ll be waiting two or three months until availability goes up. I’ve been trying to get Ghostbusters, Infamous and Prototype since their respective release dates and still haven’t had any luck. I currently have ten games in my queue and not one of them is marked as actually being “available.” And three of them are PS2 games that are several years old now so I don’t understand what the issue is on those.

So why have I stayed with them for so long you might ask? I don’t really have a good answer to that. Part of it is simply inertia, but I always have a couple of games out from them that I’m usually enjoying at the time even if they’re not what I really want to be playing at that particular moment. For $25 a month I guess it’s worth it for me. I also still purchase games from my local game store so I suppose I’m not solely relying on them to support my habit. I mostly use GF for games I’m not completely certain of or haven’t seen many reviews for. But if I know I’ll probably enjoy and spend a considerable amount of time with a particular game I’ll usually just go ahead and purchase it. For example, I have Persona 4 on the list and I’ll probably wind up buying that outright before they get around to sending it to me. But back in 2007 when Persona 3 came out I wasn’t all that familiar with the Persona games or Shin Megami Tensei so I rented it first to get a taste for it. After playing it for a few days I found a copy on eBay cheaper than they were selling it for through GF and wound up buying it and sending GF’s copy back to them. I do this pretty frequently.

Honestly I think people are too quick to complain. In reality Gamefly is saving people a small fortune regardless of wait times or shipping speeds which honestly are not that bad all things considered.

Games have a high demand and availability changes daily. I’ve been using Gamefly nearly since they came on the scene and I make a point to log in frequently and manipulate the order and/or number of games in my queue. I’ve had low availability games go “high” the next and ship. A little proactivity goes a long way. Regardless of any lulls in service, you’re still saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars renting games over buying them.

Case and point: suppose you’re on the 2 games at a time plan with Gamefly. That’s $22.95 a month or $275 for the year. Now this is the plan I’m on and I rent a good 40 to 50 games over the year. I don’t always play through that many but that’s about right for the number of games that come through the house in a year’s time. Retail cost for 40 games = $2400 if you assume a $60 price tag. Used games at say $25 a pop if you’re lucky would come to $1000. Go ahead and cut that in half if you think it’s still too high. You’re still coming out at $500, nearly twice what you’d pay for Gamefly for the entire year to play that many games.

All things considered, even when your idle for a month or hang on to something a little longer you’re still so far ahead of the game financially it’s a no brainer.

A brand new member whose only post is a defense of GameFly.


Oh whatever… a dissenting opinion and you’re marked as “the man.” :rolleyes: The math doesn’t lie, I’m just pointing out the obvious.

No, you’re not “the man.” You’re just someone whose first and only post to a massive messageboard is a defense of a large corporation that was being criticised.

As others have noted in other threads, this sort of thing has become more common since the SDMB allowed Google to index the site, meaning that threads like this can be found using a Google search. In some cases, the people who join the conversation offer good advice or assistance; in others, they’re clearly doing little but spin control.

Exactly which is often not immediately clear, but i think members have a right to be suspicious of people who join just to post defenses like this. If you’re still around, and contributing to the boards in non-GameFly-related threads in a couple of months, i’ll concede i was wrong.

Yeah I stopped because I kept Gears of War long enough that I could’ve bought it for the price of my Gamefly account.

Guess I shoulda posted a “I like walks on the beach, little white kitties and sunsets” intro message. My bad.

At any rate, sure… I can see your case and I suppose it could be interpreted that way but I stand by my opinion, however questionable it may appear. I’m just pointing out the bigger picture. Blockbuster’s got one foot in the bankruptcy grave and virtually everything is moving toward online distribution. Gamefly is the main player here and has a consistent track record of growth and improvement. Sure, there’s room to improve. I’m not claiming they’re flawless or beyond reproach, I’m just saying they don’t suck and it doesn’t take a huge effort to scratch the surface a little and see that.

It really depends on where you live. Like Jihi, I was a member early on and had the same problems with turnaround due to their single distribution center being on the other side of the country. To get the most out of the subscription, I had to put the game in the mail the day after I got it. I tried it again last year and it was slightly better, but turnaround was still a problem.

If you live close to a distribution center, I’m sure they’re great. If you don’t, it’s likely not worth it.

Well again, it’s a matter of simple math which I outlined in my original post. As for distribution and time it takes to get games I’ve personally never gone longer than a week waiting for anything. Now, granted… I’m logging in probably 3/4 times a week and tweaking my game queue according to availability, new releases, etc… but I just don’t understand these long wait times people complain about. A little proactivity goes a long way.

There’s also the issue of “fast return” which, as I’m sure most everyone knows here, is hit or miss depending on whether or not your local office actually scans the games. Not all do although this can usually be remedied by dropping games into different mailboxes until you get a hit. I always send my games back from work where I’m fortunate to have them go through a post office that scans. If I mail them back from the mailbox down the street from my apartment they don’t get scanned.

Between logging in and messing with my queue and mailing my games back through a post office that scans them for fast return I rarely ever see more than a 3 day turnaround. So you know, again, yes… there are some issues to be corrected but overall the service is a good one and a financial godsend for anyone who wants to cycle through a good variety of games, has multiple consoles, etc…

I had Gamefly for several years, and on balance I think it was a good deal. It kept me from buying games for the most part, which was part of the reason I had it. Pre-Gamefly, I’d look at a game and think “that could be cool, I’ll buy it and check it out.” Most of the time, this resulted in me playing a couple of hours, being disappointed and shelving the game.

Post-Gamefly, I would instead put the game on my list and then eventually get around to playing and returning the ones I had out.

Yeah, I was spending $15 a month (early subscriber discount, yay), but I was saving $50-$60 a month by not buying games. Net win for me.

I finally dropped it a couple of months ago, mostly because Xbox Live is getting pretty good at demos.

Can someone explain why they’d spend hundreds of dollars a year rather than using that to buy games they wanted and just reading metacritic to see what’s worth getting?

Well considering a game costs on average $ 60, you’re talking about one game for the price of a four month subscription. If you are beating games at a rate of more than one per month it’s worth it.

I’ve got to chime in and say I haven’t found Gamefly to be as bad as some people here have mentioned. I only do the one game plan and at $12 a month or whatever it is, it feels worth it to me.

But I will definitely agree with whoever said they don’t buy enough copies of new games. I re-signed up a few months ago after letting my subscription due to lack of money and the first thing I did was fill up my queue with a bunch of newer titles. Gamefly then sat on my new subscription for 4 or 5 days until I contacted them and said “Hey, what’s going on?” They write back by telling me to put a few older games on my list. I do nothing and I end up getting Street Fighter IV marked as shipped the next day. I had it at around number 8 I believe.