Looking Back At Video Game Rentals

I saw a thread on Reddit the other day that was talking about the Nostalgia of walking into a store and renting a video game. This really made me think about the whole Rental process and if stores like this are really as out of date as we think they are. I really wanted to take a look at how old rental store where ran and the benefits they gave us as a society. Of course, as with everything, there are always goods and bads attached to every topic. So, would bring back rental stores be such a bad idea?

Why They are Missed

The last time I went into a rental store was probably in my sophomore year of high school. This was sometime around 2008 when most stores were having their final sales. I remember going in and getting a bunch of games for cheap that they were trying to get rid of before the store closed down. At the time I was super happy to just be able to get ahold of a couple of GameCube games for a low price. Later on, as I grew up I started to regret the fact that we didn’t have things where we could try out games as easily anymore. This is because like many Americans I live in a small town without access to what larger red boxes carry.

Due to this fact, if I want to play a newer game then I’m just going to have to find $60 and buy it for my local game store. Of course, if I don’t like it I’m stuck with it unless I trade it in and take a huge price cut. This is because new merchandise generally cannot be returned once opened. While I completely understand the business Prospect of this and you can’t really sell something new that has had the cellophane ripped off and been played. It can be frustrating to buy a game I’ve been excited for months just to find out it’s not all that it lives up to. If I wanted to wait for a pre-owned version of the game to be traded in I would have to wait weeks and be on top of my game in order to get it before anyone else. As an avid gamer and someone who reviews quite often waiting just isn’t possible for me in a lot of cases.

Another huge point is while you can return pre-owned games rather easily to the places where you bought them from. No one wants to constantly be the customer returning merchandise every week. Not only does this hurt business on the corporate side but, it can be embarrassing to go to the same store every other week and return a game. On top of that pre-owned prices tend to go up and down all the time meaning I can end up paying quite a bit just to try again that I may not like. While I can get this back when I return it, it’s still frustrating to have large amounts of money basically on hold. There’s a lot of things you can do with that $30 including getting quite a few lunches from your local fast food place or quite a few drinks to have during work.

The Cost

While it is pretty hard to dig up an exact amount that it cost to rent movies and games from some old stores, we have some pretty a decent idea of the numbers. The average store lets you rent DVDs and games for about 6 days each. This is generally enough time to beat most games leaving out long RPGs. From what we found on forums the average per game rental fee went between $5 to $8 per rental period.This means that if you rented a game each week of the month it would cost around $24 per month. This is around the cost that you would pay for a decent pre-owned Game at a game store. It also seemed to be rather easy to re-rent things if you already have them. A lot of forum answers did state that new releases would cost at least $2 more to rent than a game that had been out for a bit.

Some stores did feature-set membership amounts that included game rentals. This was generally about two to three rentals per month on video games. These memberships cost somewhere around 24.99 a month depending on the chain. It also seemed like if you wanted to add on another video game to your rental it would be a few dollars more instead of the whole amount charged to non-members. Most of these memberships also came with unlimited DVD or VHS rentals. If you caught memberships on a sale you could even get them for a discounted monthly price or discounted yearly price.

Let’s compare these prices to the current price to rent at Redbox. Renting a game from Redbox is about $3 a night. This means a 6 day rental of a game would total up to $18 and there is no membership for you to get that can get you a set amount of rentals. If you were to rent a game every week of a month you would be looking at over $50 to fully or mostly play through about four games. With this cost, It is better to just buy the game or buys a couple of pre-owned ones from your local game store.There is absolutely no deal in renting weekly from Redbox with these rates.

The Benefit of a Rental Chain

While I don’t see the possibility of a huge number of rental Chains coming back. I could easily see a few Mom and Pop shops and maybe a few major retailers starting to offer for rentals. A lot of feedback towards the days of rental stores on the internet seems to be mostly positive. People seem to genuinely miss the fact that they could walk in the store and easily find what they want without actually committing space in their house as well as a large sum of money to it. This means that there is a market out there for the right type the store.

If we could bring back a few rental chains that can keep up with Trends in gaming as well as movies then I feel as if they could stay in the market. Busy people love the convenience and the ease of just driving down to town and picking up the game they have been wanting to play while not paying full price for it. Not only that but if you didn’t like your game you wouldn’t be stuck with like you would by paying to own it. The only real problem that these stores would have is the set up a good payment system.

This is were bringing back a rental chain would really get tricky. You would have to find a price point that would sustain the stores, pay the employees, and help with the acquisition of new products. This price would also have to be competitive against companies like GameFly to make the patrons feel like it was truly worth the price. One good way to do this could be a sort of monthly or yearly fee like you would pay for a subscription box. The monthly fee could be something like $25 a month for unlimited DVD rentals and x amount of game rentals.

If a person wants to go over the set standard then they could pay a few dollars more for each rental instead of being charging full price. If someone didn’t want to have a membership there could be a set rate per week for each rental. If you knew you would be using the store a lot they can even pay something like $150 per year in order to have all the benefits of a monthly price with a reduced price tag.

Other Alternatives

If you wanted to rent a game right now there is always GameFly. it is probably the closest thing you’re going to find a good value that can get you the games you want. They do contain a massive category with most anything you were looking for. They even have some harder to find games that you can rent to play. You can choose between several tiers and pricing depending on a number of games you have out at one time. The queue system is also easy to use and lets you list what games you most want to play so they will know what to send you. Around the time of new launches, it can be a little hard to get ahold of title so you’ll kind of have to strategically plan when to send your game back to have the best chance of having the new release it to you.

As of right now, this is the best alternative we have unless you’re lucky enough to live in a town with a mom and pop rental shop is still open. Hopefully, someday a company will pick up on the hole left by the rental business and open up a new shop. If you live in a smaller town you can even think of this as a business venture you could get into. I don’t believe that rental stores uses are out dated and there is still a huge Market out there that is now untapped.

Jessica has been working with the gaming industry for about two years now. She enjoys playing quirky Japanese games and learning about the newest trivia in the industry. When not working with games you may find her chilling with her naked cat Prince Noko... he's pretty cool we guess.