Harry’s already written a bunch about Qwikster, Netflix’s newly-named business for mail-order DVD rentals. And while I agree that it’s a silly name, and that the announcement was pretty sloppy, I’m still excited about the news simply because Qwikster will rent video games as well as movies.
Netflix–er, Qwikster–hasn’t described its game rental service in detail, but did say that it’ll be an optional upgrade to movie rentals. As someone who subscribes to both Netflix DVDs and to GameFly, that’s an appealing alternative.
I haven’t found a good enough reason to quit GameFly during my four years of membership, but a couple of things have irked me: The wait for new games is often unbearable, and although I can’t prove this empirically, the option to buy rented games at a discount has seemed less useful lately. I can’t remember the last time that a rental game I wanted to keep has been available for purchase.
Blockbuster isn’t a viable alternative because the wait for new games is even worse than GameFly–games that launch this month won’t be available by mail until December–but with Netflix’s existing scale in mail-order DVDs, I’m hoping that it’ll give GameFly some good competition. I plan to look into game rentals once they’re available.
As an aside, I disagree with M2 analyst Billy Pidgeon, who told VentureBeat that mail-order game rentals have a short shelf life thanks to cloud gaming services such as OnLive, which can stream video games instantly to PCs and set-top boxes. Streaming games still have some technical hurdles to get over, such as controller lag and the requirement of a fast–preferably wired–Internet connection. And until Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft embrace streaming, a large swatch of really good first-party games won’t be available through the cloud. Downloadable games pose a threat, but not until we get download-only game consoles, and that’s not happening in the near future.