Blockbuster to Offer Games By Mail

By  |  Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 2:27 pm

blockbusterLooking to up the ante against both Netflix and Gamefly, Blockbuster is rolling out a mail order rental service for video games. As part of the “Total Access” program, a select number of customers will soon test the new venture, with nationwide availability coming in the second half of this year, Kotaku reports.

The news raises some key questions, mostly in regards to pricing. Considering that a two-disc subscription to Gamefly costs $9 more per month than Netflix’s movie plan and $6 more than the plan at Blockbuster, I can’t imagine that existing Total Access customers will be able to rent video games without ponying up extra dough. On a related note, I wonder if it will be a separate plan that subscribers can choose instead of movies, or if it will only come as part of the whole package.

To be honest, it’s going to take significant cost savings for me to drop Gamefly. Sure, it can take a week or longer to get high demand titles, but otherwise I’ve had very few problems with the service. Plus, Gamefly offers nice perks, such as coupons and discounts for purchasing used games and respectable trade-in rates that help offset subscription costs. Besides, poor selection and availability of games at Blockbuster’s brick-and-mortar stores brought me to Gamefly in the first place, so I won’t even consider switching until Blockbuster can prove itself.

And then there’s Netflix. The movie-by-mail company doesn’t offer games, leaving the door open for Blockbuster to be the be-all end-all of media rentals. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting on Blockbuster’s streaming movie partnership with Sonic Solutions, and I can already watch streaming Netflix movies from my Xbox 360.

Here’s a thought: Blockbuster becomes the Playstation 3’s movie streamer as part of an all-inclusive game and movie rental package. That’d make me jealous of Sony’s console for sure.

Update: Joystiq has dug up some more information on the program. It’ll cost $5 more per month than any existing plan, but only if you add games to your queue that month. Blockbuster Online VP Bob Barr dodged questions about game availability compared to Gamefly but said the company won’t be augmenting its library for the program. There are “no conversations explicitly going on” in regards to a streaming service for Sony, Barr said.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. JC Says:

    Sounds pretty solid…

  2. Michael Says:

    With the reported additional $5 charge for Games by Mail, I can’t see how Blockbuster can do as well as Gamefly, even considering the slow turn-around and lost titles experienced at Gamefly. Granted, the industry does need some good competition, but I don’t see Blockbuster as the answer. One question to ponder now is, how will the closing of some 960 Blockbuster stores effect the Blockbuster model?

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