On GameFly and GameStop

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Last summer I signed up for the single game subscription via GameFly. It’s the same concept as Netflix but for console games instead of movies. So far I’ve been very satisfied with the service. I have the same problems as with Netflix, but they’re not problems with the services themselves. My most common problem is simply not being able to devote a lot of time to gaming (much like movie watching) so I’ll often have the same game sitting at home for a couple of months.

In the long run, at least in some cases, it still might be cheaper to just buy games instead. However, I enjoy not getting stuck with a crappy game and once in a while a good deal comes along thanks to member perks. Since I joined I’ve been able to purchase Army of Two for $10 and most recently I acquired Scene It? Box Office Smash for $14. When you choose to “keep” a game they immediately ship out the next in your queue and they’ll also mail the game’s original case and manual for no extra charge.

The only annoyance I’ve experienced, which is also familiar to Netflix subscribers, is difficulty in getting games that are very popular.

I’ve almost stopped spending money at GameStop. Over the past few years I’ve traded two consoles, accessories, and games and almost every time I felt like I was getting ripped off. So I’ve stopped trading games completely, regardless of whether or not I play them. I’m also annoyed with their prices. The last game I paid full-price for was Mass Effect 2, and only because I really enjoy the series.

Last weekend I traveled to the nearest GameStop fully prepared to purchase Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. But the sticker-shock changed my mind. It wasn’t a surprise that the new copies were $60 each, but the $55 price for used copies was a joke. Even with my discount card I wouldn’t be saving much.

Besides, I already knew I could buy it new from Amazon.com for only $40 with free shipping.

So I did.

It should arrive sometime next week.

I feel sorry for the people employed by GameStop. It’s a service that’s slowly losing relevance now that more and more current generation games are being distributed via download. Personally, I like the idea of owning a disc that I can sell or trade to someone. But on the other hand I’m tired of places like GameStop ripping off consumers. I don’t know how GameStop will survive in the near future. Selling consoles and accessories doesn’t seem like enough to keep them afloat and it’s a safe bet most of their profit comes from reselling used games (if you’ve ever traded a game, especially a popular one, you know that you often aren’t paid half of what they’ll resell it for).

The only path to survival for stores like GameStop is to get the major game console manufactures to let them act as a broker for digital downloads.

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