By Jared Newman | Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 5:49 pm
Apparently I missed the news that Gamefly is trying to pull a Redbox with video game rental kiosks, because the first I heard of it was this morning, when an e-mail alerted me to their existence.
The e-mail — sent to me as a Gamefly subscriber, not a journalist — included an offer for a free, one-night rental, normally valued at $2. For gaming, one night is essentially nothing unless you don’t plan to sleep, but nonetheless I headed to one of the two 7-Elevens listed in the e-mail to take a look. (Strangely, Gamefly’s G-Box landing page doesn’t say where else you can find the kiosks.)
As you can see, G-Boxes are hulking machines operated by touch screen. I poked around the menu for a few minutes and deduced that there were 41 games available for both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, but just 16 for Nintendo’s Wii. I didn’t count the number of Playstation 2 games on tap. Here and there, a game was out of stock, but for the most part everything was available.
It’s worth noting that the option to purchase games was grayed out. I imagine that as some games get a fair share of use, they’ll be sold off to make way for new stock.
Overall, renting from the G-Box was enjoyable. You don’t need a subscription to do it, and it only took a minute to rent out a copy of Left 4 Dead, which I may or may not play tonight.
The only problem with the G-Box — and it’s a major one — is the price. Gamefly says there are no late fees, but that’s misleading, as you automatically get charged $2 for every night the game is out. Given that you need at least a week to really enjoy a game, there’s rarely a situation where the G-Box is economically feasible.
To thrive in the manner that Redbox does, the G-Box needs to get competitive on price in a couple of ways: First, there should be an option for weekly rentals at a discounted rate, and I think $7 per week is fair. Second, existing Gamefly subscribers should be able to use the G-Box for free, or at least at a considerable discount.
As it stands, the G-Box is only useful for briefly trying a game before buying.