Redbox is coming to the rescue of video game rentals, adding games to every one of its ubiquitous DVD kiosks.
Starting today, all 21,000 Redbox kiosks in the United States will rent video games for $2 per night. That’s more expensive than Redbox’s $1 per night movie rentals, but it’s on par with Blockbuster’s game rental rate of $10 per five nights, and is more flexible.
And besides, Redbox kiosks are easier to find nowadays. After Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in September, the number of U.S. stores in operation dropped from 3,300 to 1,700. Redbox is hoping its grocery and convenience store presence will lead to more game rentals. “We make it very convenient by having our kiosks in front of the places people are at every day,” Joel Resnik, Redbox’s vice president of games, said in April when the company announced its game rental plans.
Besides Blockbuster, Redbox’s main competitor is GameFly, which rents games by mail at $16 for one disc at a time and $23 for two discs at a time. Incidentally, GameFly also tried to rent games from kiosks at some 7-Eleven locations, but the idea never caught on, probably because it was directly competing with Redbox for space and didn’t have the initial lure of cheap movie rentals.
I don’t love the $2 per night game rental — I keep my games for long periods of time, making GameFly a better value — but I see its utility. A night or two with a new game could be a good way to try before buying, and if you’re entertaining friends, $2 nightly rentals make more sense than spending $10 at Blockbuster or buying a game outright.
In any case, I’m just glad the idea of on-demand game rentals is sticking around, because some games just aren’t worth full price.