By Jared Newman | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 5:37 pm
According to Reuters, Redbox is talking with game developers (publishers, more likely) about renting games for $2 per night. The company won’t say which publishers are involved, but THQ, the company behind Saints Row, said it would consider the idea. Redbox is already testing the program in Wilmington, N.C., and Reno, Nev.
There are only two problems: Just as Blockbuster is following Redbox’s lead with movie rental kiosks, Redbox was beaten to the punch by Gamefly, which has been operating G-Box kiosks since March. More importantly, as I’ve experienced first-hand, renting video games through kiosks is unpleasant, at least with the business model that both companies are pursuing.
Game rentals are fundamentally different from movie rentals. You can watch a movie in one evening, but you can’t play an entire game in one night without a four-pack of Red Bull, and possibly the next day off from work. The real money from game rentals, I suspect, is made when you keep that game beyond the first day. That’s probably why Gamefly constantly sends me coupon codes for free rental nights. (Seriously, they’re like AOL demo discs in e-mail form.)
Unfortunately, the G-Box costs $2 per day, the same price Redbox chose for its pilot program. If either kiosk operator is serious about game rentals, it needs a weekly price scheme for considerably less than $14. As it stands, gaming by kiosk makes the most sense for people who want to try before they buy — and the G-Box does let you purchase games from it. Otherwise, you’re better off renting from a place that won’t put you under so much pressure. There’s enough of that going on in the games themselves.