Savvy Gamer Tactics: Renting

Renting games is not something most gaming studios advocate. The official policy, as it appears to me, is that renting games doesn't put money in the hardworking studios' pockets.

That said, I do rent games. I rent games for two reasons: Economics and how I feel about a game. The economics part is easy to figure out: I only have so much money to spend on video games.

The how I feel about a game is dependent upon the demo or lack of one. Often, a demo is too short for me to really get a proper feel for a game. Or perhaps I like the game a bit, but some aspect such as the way the game controls function turn me off to spending the money on it. I have written about demos before and how important they are.

The simple solution is to rent the game. For myself, other dedicated  gamers I know, parents with kids that game, renting is a smart and frugal choice.

With renting games, you can, cleverly, chose to do a monthly subscription which will maximize your gameplay and minimize your spending. Why monthly and not popping into the local shop and renting randomly? Simple. Most game rental providers allow you to have out unlimited games each month, one at a time. Or two at a time, etc. for a set price. Paying for game rental each time adds up quickly.

Right now the two main video game rental subscription providers are Gamefly and Blockbuster in the USA.

Gamefly offers a free month trial in which you sign up for a basic subscription of one game out at a time for $15.95/month or the $22.95/month for two games out at a time. Plus tax. Free shipping (of course).

Blockbuster offers a free month trial in which you sign up for 1 disc at a time subscription for $9.99/month or 2 discs at a time for $14.99/month or 3 discs at a time for $19.99/month. Plus tax. Free shipping as well.

The savvy shopper will see that the Blockbuster deal is $5.96 cheaper for their basic service. Plus it is for a disc. Which means, yep, you can rent a game. Send it back. Rent a DVD. Send it back. Rent a get the picture.

With Gamefly you can rent a game. Send it back. Rent a game. Send it back....and so forth.

How does this all equate to you, the frugal shopper? Savings. Instead of plunking down as low as $7 per used game (trade-in value of about $0.25) and as high as $120 for a new special edition version of a game, you get to play the game and more if you time your rentals for under $20 a month.

There is a major downside to renting games released since 2011. Multiplayer. Gaming studios have gone to, or going to, multiplayer verification. How this works is that new games will have a code included that you enter giving you "free" access to the multiplayer part of the game. In reality, it is simply checking that you paid full price for a new game.

The games that have this multiplayer verification also provide the means for players to purchase the verification, usually called an Online Pass. Average price for this is $10/per game/per pass. Great for buying used games.

So, when you are looking at renting video games, look to see if the game is more heavily towards the multiplayer. And figure out if that game is one you will focus on multiplayer with. If so, do a quick price comparision between different retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, etc. Find the best deal on a new game.

But for games that are all about the single player experience or if multiplayer doesn't matter or if the game is older than a year old, rent it.

Finally, to maximize your savings, set a schedule. In our home our schedule runs like this:
  1. Two games a month. I chose one game. My significant other chooses the second game.
  2. Each person gets to play each game for 5 days. Once the 5 days is up the other person plays for 5 days.
  3. When the 10 days is up, game goes back.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Now 5 days might not seem like a lot. And there is flexibility. If I don't feel like playing the rented game one evening despite it being my turn, I don't hoard the game. The other person can play it. No biggie. It all works itself out in the wash.

Are you a renter or are you a strict buyer? Let us all know your experiences renting!


Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Stay frugal!