It used to be, when I wanted to play the latest game, I would go to the video store or to my local electronics outlet and pick up a copy for what used to be a steep price (approx. $3 to rent for a few days or $40 to buy).
However, as time has passed, so has the need for store-front video game rentals. In their place we have the likes of digital downloads, pre-orders, GameFly (a Netflix-like subscription service) and now – Redbox game rentals. Redbox in particular, I am sad to say, has left a sour taste in my mouth.
Don’t get me wrong – the premise of Redbox game rentals is an underrated idea: Instead of requiring a subscription to something like GameFly or having a membership of a local video store, all you need for a Redbox game is your cash card and an idea of what game you want. Easy, right? Exactly.
With most locations opting to carry a Redbox dispensary either out front or inside their store, finding one with the game you want is as easy as visiting the store for some groceries and picking up a game while you’re there.
The problem, however, comes in with the price per rental. Ten years ago, I was able to rent the latest games from my local video store for $3 and get it for approximately three days. The cost of a one (1) day rental from Redbox? $2.
Now, to the very casual gamer, this is no problem. Two dollars gets you time to play the game and see if you like it, get a few achievement points/trophies and then take it back. But for someone such as myself who is interested in playing the game for longer than a couple of hours (some of us have responsibilities), it’s a ridiculous price at best.
Consider, for a moment, that with movies rented from Redbox, you’re likely to watch it in a span of one and a half to three hours, completing it in one fell swoop. This is why the cost of $1 (or $1.50 for a Blu-ray) is more than appealing and – frankly – why my family has opted to use Redbox for movies over Netflix.
In the same amount of time that it takes you to watch that movie, you might experience only a small portion of a video game that you’ve rented for twice the price of a typical movie rental.
While I’m sure the price increase is tied to the kind of media being rented, conventional wisdom suggests that something requiring additional time to complete would run at a lower cost, which would make your service that much more popular and drive the demand for more games. This would also suggest a probably increase in revenue due to multiple rentals. But hey, that’s just me thinking crazy, right?
I honestly like the idea of being able to “one-stop-shop,” so to speak – getting my groceries and a video game for an after-dinner romp through whatever world seems to be the most appealing at the time. However, if the cost of a single game is going to run me upwards of $20 by the time I’ve completed it (that’s 10 days of playing time at around two to four hours of play time per day, give or take)? No thank you. At that price, I’d just assume buy the game and play it whenever I want, which defeats the whole point of renting it in the first place.
Redbox has a good thing on their hands with the game rentals, but they need to figure out how to price it correctly so it can make a lasting impression – not a fleeting one that leaves a sour taste in our mouths.