Game Rentals: The Poor Man’s Guide


The end has come for Hollywood Video, so what does that leave for rentals?

We’ve hit a point in our life where video games are officially everywhere. We’ve also hit a point where they cost more than the average person has to freely spend all willy-nilly. When I was a kid there was always the salvation of the video game rental, but these days you have to think harder whether you really want to rent a game or just purchase it. Here’s my two cents on the subject matter, although it’s recommended you have more than two cents saved up should you decide to rent a game.

Your Three Options

At this very moment, you have essentially three options for renting games in the traditional sense. Blockbuster Video still exists in most places, most likely leaving it as the only video store in your town now that Hollywood Video moved on like your last girlfriend. The second option is the Mom & Pops video store you may actually nearby, though don’t get too attached as those may very well move on, too, just like your current girlfriend. The third option is Game Fly, the video game version of Netflix. So which method is best? Stop being so pushy! This is why your girlfriends keep leaving you!

The Last Great Juggernaut

Just don't get too attached...

Okay, so let’s start off with Blockbuster since, uh, I mentioned that first. Blockbuster’s first priority is that of a chain movie store. They are riddled with company policy and deals they constantly want you to buy. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. The bad news is that the price for a game rental is currently $9 for five days, which in the simplest terms is exactly $Ridiculous. You have to really know that you will be satisfied with your game rental within that five-day period, otherwise I have a better option for you. Still, I’ll give you some titles that work well for that rental time.

The good news for Blockbuster though is that because they have the cash flowing in semi-regularly, they can offer coupons here and there, plus if you mention you love renting video games to relatives they are more inclined to get you a giftcard to Blockbuster, knowing you’ll have one nearby and they’ll have something you’ll rent. But as I said before, they’re run by corporate policy, meaning they have no wiggle room 99% of the time if you, say, take a game back after one night and say you can’t play it anymore since you’ll kill someone as a result of being bad at Street Fighter IV (totally hypothetical). Doesn’t matter, you’re not getting any money back.

Frickin'...STOP KICKING ME! ...Totally hypothetical.

The Local Option

As for the second option, the Mom & Pops store, you have similar aspects to consider. While they’re smaller in size, to stay competitive they may have rentals for much cheaper or much longer, sometimes both. The reason behind this is they don’t hinge a lot of sales on game rentals, so they can afford to let those go cheaper. The inverse means they won’t put a high priority on game rentals, so they won’t get as many copies of new games, if any. Of course, this is all dependant on your individual store. I have a local game store called Big City Gamin’ that has new titles and rents things for $1 a day. You’ll probably have to go looking for the small town game store in your area since they won’t make themselves well known.

And sometimes they just look cooler than Blockbuster, too. The little things count.

The other great part about the small town store is the aforementioned wiggle room that policy-driven chains must adhere to. If you make friends with the employees at your local video store and walk in with a complaint, you’re more likely to have them listen and say, “Yeah, that sucks bro, sure, grab a different game for the remainder of your rental period.” This is naturally case-by-case, so it may not hold true to every store you shop at.

Living on The Grid

The last option is that of Game Fly. The easiest way to describe Game Fly is “Netflix but with games and for twice the money.” They have a few pay options, but the main one is either one-disc out at a time for $16 a month or two-discs for $23. As a cost-saving measure, the math is that you’re paying a little over fifty cents a day for the one-disc option and a little less than fifty cents a day for two. Overall, that makes this a better deal than Blockbuster, assuming you play games enough to justify renting games all the time.

The downside is they apparently think we look like this.

But assuming you play games that much, you’re going to have some periods of waiting before you can play games again. The second you request a game it does not appear in your mailbox (you’re smart enough to know this), and every time you’re finished with a game you’ll have a few days of lag before the next one appears. There’s just no avoiding that. As I said though, if you play a lot of games but don’t have the money to buy everything, Game Fly is the next best option.

My biggest warning about renting video games comes as thus: If you don’t care enough about the game to buy it, why are you renting it? And if you are renting it, why do you need it now? For me, most new titles are either in my “I must own” category or my “I’ll play that eventually” category. Much of the time, if I wait six months I can get the game I didn’t feel strongly enough to buy Day One for as low as $5, though $15 is probably the standard price I find. If you have patience, there really is no reason to want to rent games.

If, however, you want some good recommendations on games that work better as rentals, and a few that don’t, I’ll have that for you in a day or so. Stick tight and weigh your options game renters!


About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

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