Renting Video Games On-Line, Is It Worth It?

by The Cookie Snatcher on April 2, 2002 @ 1:19 p.m. PST

Its true, a lot of gamers don't have access to a large selection of video games at their local rental outlets. So when the corner video store fails us where do out-of-luck gamers turn for their fix of digital entertainment? Enter On-line video game rentals. With selections over 10 times larger then that of your local Blockbuster Video (not to mention import titles that you will never see at your local video store) delivered straight to your door, on-line rental programs may very well be the answer to many would-be gamer's prayers. Yes friend, salvation is near. We've spent the time putting a few companies who offer this service to the test so you don't have to.

RENTING VIDEO GAMES ON-LINE, IS IT WORTH IT?

REQUIREMENTS:

  • A major credit card
  • An internet connection

The games you rent on-line usually take anywhere from 3-7 days to get to your door. Most on-line companies allow you to simply return the game once your done playing them in the provided pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope, at which point they will automatically mail you the next game on your list. Rates range from $10-25 a month, depending on the plan that you have chosen. A cool thing about on-line video game rentals is that there is no due dates or late fees to hassle with, you simply pay the flat monthly fee and keep the games you want until they have worn out their welcome. Different web-sites have different plans so check around before signing up. The shipping process usually entails filling out a standard information form, providing information like your mailing address, billing address and so forth. In some cases you will also have to choose what shipping method you prefer; First Class Mail is usually your best bet, although Next Day Air might be the way to go if you don't mind shelling out a few extra latinum slips.

Currently there are not a whole heckuva lot of companies to choose from, that's the bad news. The good news is that these companies should offer enough selection to quench your gaming thirst for some time to come. Everything from Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2 and in some cases Gameboy Advance titles are available for rent. RedOctane seems to be the fastest growing rental outlet; recently upgrading their on-line rental system to be more user-friendly and partnering up with IGN.com. RedOctane also has a vast selection of games across all major platforms, although in some instances it takes them longer then retail stores to get games in stock. DVD Avenue (DVDAvenue.com) is a good way to go if you only own a PS2 and also want to rent DVD's, at the time of this writing however their PS2 selection was insignificant, leaving a lot to be desired. Video Game Alley (videogamealley.com) is another on-line rental shop and rents out games for every major console unit from 1994-present, which is rare. Rates are sensible but like DVD Avenue, their selection is not the best. However, if your looking to rent N64 or GBA games on-line then you forfeit the right to be choosey.

The most important thing to look for when selecting a company to do business with is how fast they can get new, popular games ready for rental. Unfortunately, this seems to be the main hurdle with fledgling rental companies since they need to fill an adequate supply of each particular game before they can meet the demand. In this respect, RedOctane is ahead of the game. Don't expect to receive hugely-hyped games the day they come out though, because thats just not going to happen regardless of which company you finally settle on. One up-and-coming company that is shaping up to go toe-to-toe with RedOctane is Angel Gamer (AngelGamer.com), they may have the most efficient business plan out of the entire bunch; Renting out only Xbox, NGC, and PS2 titles. Foregoing the on-the-way-out aging consoles allows them to focus more on the upcoming games and gives them a better chance of keeping up with demand. The folks at Angel Gamer are starting out strong and seem to be heading in the right direction; listing newly released games and offering them for rental shortly after they are officially released. Pricing is right on par with RedOctane and they boast an innovative renting system that allows you to place games into your queue and arrange for them to be sent out as you have uniquely prioritized them.

So what we have learned thus far is that on-line renting is a vastly superior method when compared to going to your local video store in most cases. But just like anything else, on-line rentals do not come without their share of downfalls. The major downfall being that it can take up to 2 weeks to receive a game if the company your going through hasn't stocked up on the title your interested in. In areas of tech support RedOctane is the hands down winner, when calling the toll-free customer support line you are very rarely greeted with an automated system. Real people pick up when you call and they have always been adequately helpful; solving problems in a matter of a few minutes. My biggest gripe with RedOctane is that it would sometimes take up to 3 weeks for a game that I sent back to register on their system and I would thus be left with nearly a months worth of not having a new game to play. They claim that it usually only takes anywhere from 3-5 days for them to receive the game you sent in and ship out a new one but this is clearly not the case. To RedOctane's credit though, if you are continually calling them on this issue they will happily modify your monthly bill according to the amount of time you were left empty handed.

Will PC game rentals be offered in the future? When asked off-the-record, Chris, who manages the weekly RedOctane newsletter has this to say: "We've often thought of renting PC games, but there are so many compatibility issues and cd-key issues that unless the industry were to change, we probably will continue to not rent PC games." So there you have it, PC gamers will have to look elsewhere for their gaming fix.

Below you will find a handful of on-line rental outlets listed with the formats they offer, how much they charge and whether they pay for the 2-way shipping process that's involved.

RedOctane

RENTS: PSX, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and Dreamcast

RATES :

  • G2 Plan: 2 games out at a time $18.95
  • G3 Plan: 3 games out at a time $23.95
  • G5 Plan: 5 games out at a time $39.95

7 day Rental $4.95

SHIPPING PRE-PAID? : yes


DVDAvenue

RENTS: DVD, PSX, and PS2

RATES :

  • 2 DVDS/GAMES out at a time $14.95
  • 4 DVDS/GAMES out at a time $24.95
  • 6 DVDS/GAMES out at a time $34.95
  • 8 DVDS/GAMES out at a time $44.95

SHIPPING PRE-PAID? : yes

VideoGameAlley

RENTS: PSX, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Dreamcast, N64, and Gameboy Advance

RATES :

  • 2 games out at a time $17.95
  • 3 games out at a time $21.95
  • 4 games out at a time $24.95
  • 5 games out at a time $27.95

SHIPPING PRE-PAID? : yes

AngelGamer

RENTS: PS2, Xbox, and GameCube

RATES :

  • 1 game out at a time $14.95
  • 2 games out at a time $17.95
  • 3 games out at a time $23.95

SHIPPING PRE-PAID? : yes

blog comments powered by Disqus