Gamefly: They Actually Have Games

 By Shamus Apr 20, 2007 20 comments

I apologize if my game rental adventures are getting tiresome, but I think after heaping shame onto Gamefly yesterday it’s only fair to note that they did manage to ship me a couple of titles. On the way are Prince of Persia – Two Thrones, and Lumines. I also have another game on the way from an unexpected source, but I’ll write more about that later.

Thanks to everyone who posted advice on how to coax games out of the capricious Gamefly oracle. Their availability is still lacking, although not quite as shameful as it seemed at first glance. For those of you who know the service, perhaps you can advise on how I might accomplish the following:

Our account lets us have two games at a time. To wit: We get a game, and another one. The plan is to always have one game for the PS2 and one for the Nintendo DS. More to the point: One for the kids and one for me. This was a simple arrangement in Netflix – just stagger the titles in the queue. But Gamefly will ship pretty much randomly from the list. If not randomly, then perhaps they do so according to some inscrutable system which would require advanced cryptography and the the use of a supercomputer to decipher. The only way around this – to make sure that I get a title for the appropriate platform – is to clean out the list every single time I return a game and then re-populate it with titles only for the desired system. Aside from the hassle, this is an ugly kludge that sort of negates the purpose of having a list.

I started poking around, looking for alternative send-me-some-dang-games-in-the-mail-and-be-quick-about-it services after the silliness yesterday. Let’s see: There is GPlay, Gamerang, GameFly, GameznFlix, NumbThumb, RentZero, GottaPlay, and GameLender. I’ve also heard that Blockbuster rents games but I don’t know if that is a separate service or part of their movie rental business.

(An aside. Who came up with the name “Rent Zero”? That’s like naming a car “Drive Nowhere”.)

I’m suffering rather acute paradox of choice here. No matter what service I choose I’ll have this nagging doubt that I made the wrong decision. Just narrowing things down is hard. This helps a bit, but it seems like my demands about title availability are unique. The linked article compares the various services on numerous criteria, but title availability is never even mentioned.

I had no idea there were so many players in this game. Whatever happened to the classic two-party system of leader vs. challenger? PC vs Mac. VHS vs. Betamax. Coke vs. Pepsi. Ginger vs. Mary Ann. Will we go the route of safety with the established choice, or embrace the iconoclasm of the underdog? This we understand. But how am I supposed to pick a winner in a nine-sided battle? Can’t some of these guys save me some time by going out of business or buying each other out? Really, I would need some sort of glut of unexpected free time before I could investigate this properly. My most likely course of action is just to stay with Gamefly and then complain a lot. I don’t know if you could call that sort of behavior a solution per se, but it is a choice available to me.

20A natural twenty.


  1. General Ghoul says:

    I like your analogy of PC and Mac vs Ginger vs Mary Ann. You know one gets lots of viruses and the other is liked by the minority.

  2. JFargo says:

    Mary Ann, just for the record.

    :)

  3. Samuel Erikson says:

    Did you know that you can set up seperate profiles on Netflix under the same account, rather than staggering titles? Perhaps Gamefly has a similar ability.

  4. Tim says:

    Re: #3

    If Gamefly does not have the netflix ability of separate profiles, perhaps you could have two separate accounts at gamefly; one for the DS, and another for the Nintendo…

  5. We have been using Blockbuster – we switched away from netflix because the way the tie into the brick and mortar storefront is brilliant. In a nutshell, you can at any time take a movie you received in the mail and return it physically to a store for a free rental.

    As far as games, though, your account includes only one free e-coupon a month that can be used towards either movies or games. So that wont likely be enough for you (unless you dedicate it for either your use or the kids’). As it is I actually never use my e-coupon because we are getting about 5-6 movies a month as it is between our queu and the free exchange in-store. If you used BB, you’d basically have a fre game rental a month tacked on. Then you might rely on a cheap subscription to Gamefly or something for the other game rentals.

  6. Shamus says:

    Samuel Erikson: I looked. Sadly, no – they have no profiles functionality.

  7. wrg says:

    Re: #4

    Although having separate accounts is a possibility, it might cost more than is desired. It’d be more than I’d like, at least.

    Having many choices is like a lot of the shopping we do. One advantage is that you get to turn your back on a number of them in disdain without running out of options. In fact, a strategy of just going with whatever seems most decent at the time seems feasible here. Unlike PC vs. Mac and VHS vs. Betamax, your hardware is the same regardless of who’s sending you the software.

    If Gamefly (or any other service) looks particularly suited to your requirements, I suppose you might as well stay with it until you find a reason to change. I expect it shouldn’t be all that difficult to switch whatever you choose. Good luck.

    Incidentally, I’m generally glad to have more than two choices. Since you bring up two-party systems, just look at how in politics those can make it harder for electors to make significant decisions. As in the Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror VII episode, you’re all too often reduced to choosing to vote for Kang or Kodos. Similarly, banks annoy me enough as it is; I dislike the thought of having only two of those. Mind you, I certainly understand that choosing can be difficult. Just be fickle if necessary.

  8. Shamus says:

    wrg: The advocating two-party thing was just a joke. More diverse choice is always better. I was just being silly by implying that I’d like less choice because I’m too lazy to choose.

  9. Matt` says:

    PC vs Mac isn’t a dichotomy – there’s Unix, Linux and variations of BSD (and including Linux adds hundreds of potential choices to the list)

    VHS vs. Betamax is long settled, and now irrelevant (DVD FTW :P) I know that at the time it was a choice to be made but that was before my time so I’ll just pretend that the current state of things has always been the case.

    Even Coke vs. Pepsi isn’t valid – I hate both

    and now I’m done finding fault with all the examples that I knew about the competitors of (woohoo pedantry :D) Good luck finding a decent rental service from amongst the many.

  10. SteveDJ says:

    Could “Rent Zero” just be a play on the name of the Internet Service Provider “Netzero”?? Or, maybe owned by the same company?

  11. theonlymegumegu says:

    I’ve had Gamefly for over 3 years, and the stagger technique seems to work pretty well for me… I use it currently to make sure I have one home console game and one handheld game out. I guess that’s pretty much what you do, just… I’m not sharing w/ kids XD I suppose I’ve also grown used to the “short wait” thing, I mean, I get that on my Netflix account occassionally too and just accept it as part of the deal *shrugs* Maybe I’m too accomodating.

  12. That’s like naming a car “Drive Nowhere.” -Shamus

    …Oh, you mean like the Chevy Nova? Rumor has it that it did not sell well in Mexico or Spain, due to the fact that “No va” is Spanish for “It doesn’t go.”

  13. aneutralangel says:

    btw, the link you included under “this helps a bit” is a comparison that has GPlay as the best service of all with a “gold” rating. GPlay has been out of business for over a year and is sending all their customers to a different company, so not sure how useful that comparison chart is. Seems like the only way to figure out which company is better is to try them. Sigh….it would be nice if GameFly had the ability to split your GameQ tho…

  14. Andrew F. says:

    The Nova story is a particularly ironic urban legend.

  15. Betty vs. Veronica? Arwen vs. Galadriel? Seven vs. Torres? Leia vs. Luke?

  16. ShadoStahker says:

    Leia vs Luke?

    …have you been reading Han Solo fanfic again?

  17. Joshua says:

    Hehe, Andrew F. beat me to posting the Snopes link about that whole “No go” myth.

  18. Bessy Vega says:

    The NOVA did exist…I am from El Salvador and it was a total flop because the name literally means “doesn’t go”…no urban legend there…

  19. Ben says:

    I agree with you Matt.

  20. Gamefly is pretty sweet it’s just like netflix. The competition has all fallen off the map or have been picked up by Gamefly. I guess there isn’t room for more than one major game rental service.

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