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Netflix Still Contemplating Renting Out Video Games

There were cheers about a legitimate alternative to Gamefly, but it might not happen.

Netflix has been under fire from folks lately, but I still can't complain about the amazing library.

As brick and mortar establishments for media continue to go by the wayside, more and more people are turning to Internet alternatives to give them options to play more video games.

Gamefly has been a popular option for many, and Netflix’s decision to spin off its DVD business into a company called Qwikster, which would also service video game rentals, sounded pretty appealing.

When Netflix scrapped the Qwikster idea just weeks after announcing it, however, the prospect of game rentals also went into doubt.

"We have yet to decide whether or not to offer video game discs," said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on a financial call listened to by Gamasutra yesterday. "The decision will have little financial impact either way."

At least we still have the Qwikster account on Twitter.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
51 Comments
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Posted by patrickklepek
Netflix has been under fire from folks lately, but I still can't complain about the amazing library.

As brick and mortar establishments for media continue to go by the wayside, more and more people are turning to Internet alternatives to give them options to play more video games.

Gamefly has been a popular option for many, and Netflix’s decision to spin off its DVD business into a company called Qwikster, which would also service video game rentals, sounded pretty appealing.

When Netflix scrapped the Qwikster idea just weeks after announcing it, however, the prospect of game rentals also went into doubt.

"We have yet to decide whether or not to offer video game discs," said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on a financial call listened to by Gamasutra yesterday. "The decision will have little financial impact either way."

At least we still have the Qwikster account on Twitter.

Staff
Posted by hermberger

Darn it

Posted by Kraank

That would suck. I wanted to give it a try

Posted by endaround

Netflix needs to get its customer base up again. Renting video games is a great way to do that. It needs customers like Vinny who keep Castlevanina for 9 months before finally buying it.

Posted by RBecho

Don't forget, Blockbuster does mail order games (with a limited in store trade in option). That is bundled with dvds / blue rays and streaming. The library isn't great, but it does exist (and it's cheaper than Gamefly). I am still a Netflix member, but it's been real tempting to switch lately, especially with the current releases coming out.

Posted by WilliamHenry

I hope they still decide to offer games. Gamefly really needs some competition.

Posted by piropeople13

Dammit netflix just do it, it can only be good for you.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog

If the decision will have little financial impact whether they decide to do it or not... I think that already answers the question. They should!

Posted by shiro11

Sigh

Just signed up for Gamerang cause not only does Gamefly have horrible shipping times but they have the worst customer support in the world basically making it hard as hell to even allow me to resubscribe to they broken buggy system.

Posted by Shakezula84
@BlazeHedgehog
If the decision will have little financial impact whether they decide to do it or not... I think that already answers the question. They should!
Sadly what that really means is they've decided no reason exists to do it. If they are not gonna make money, then why do it is the question they are trying to answer.
Posted by NellyK

It would be awesome if Netflix had a game program, but it's hardly realistic. They lost 800k subscribers in a matter of months. They're not about to slit their own throat by pissing off Microsoft and Sony, two major reasons their streaming service is such a huge hit. Last I checked, Microsoft and Sony hate two things more than anything in this world -- used game sales and rentals. I can see it now... Netflix: "We're renting games now." Microsoft/Sony: "Oh no, you're not. Give us a massive royalty on each game rental and then we'll talk. Otherwise, kiss Netflix goodbye on Live/PSN."

Posted by morrelloman

@NellyK: I really don't think that would ever happen. The only reason some people even have XOBX Live Gold is for Netflix. And Sony bragged about being the number one device for Netflix streaming at their E3 press conference.

Posted by Phished0ne

Heh. Why am I not surprised?

Posted by Babylonian

STOP CONTEMPLATING, YOU JERKS. I NEED THIS.

I've been using GameFly on and off since 2004 (so, what, seven years now?). I don't think I've ever seen a more clear-cut decline in a service in the history of ever. The introduction of the "Availability" descriptor pretty much wrecks the value of the service, but they get away with it, because GameFly is the only GameFly that exists.

It's a bummer, because they're awful, and they've been awful forever, but if I want to churn through a $60 game or two a month for less than $20, it's the only option I have. I'm also 100% certain that the injection of competition would make renting games online fantastic, because honestly, nobody could do it more poorly than better than GameFly has.

Posted by Mr. Kamikaze

Little financial impact? All the bad rap Gamefly gets, and Netflix has a chance to offer up a reasonable alternative. If it doesn't matter either way...then just do it.

Edited by Davin

"The decision will have little financial impact either way."

Okay, so that is a fact. In that case, if you are not going to lose money, how about doing it to gain a little good will with your customers? Crazy idea, I know! It just might work to repair that reputation a little bit.

Edit: @Mr. Kamikaze: JINX

Posted by spilledmilkfactory

It'd be nice to have my game and movie rentals under the same umbrella. C'mon Netflix, you know you wanna

Posted by Mercot

I'm pretty happy with gamefly ("keep it" discount, rewards, etc.) but if Netflix can get me a 2-game plan for less money with faster shipping times, I'd be all over it.

Posted by guypussy

"The decision will have little financial impact either way."

Aaaand there's your answer.

Posted by MeatSim

They really just need to pull the trigger on this and do it.

Posted by ApolloBob

Yeah, do this - I'll swap out everything in my queue for games instead. I pretty much only use the streaming service for my tv/movie needs as it is.

Posted by MrOldboy

I love everyone demanding netflix goes this route. It all seems great now, renting games hopefully at a cheaper price than gamefly. But how many copies will Netflix buy of the major release you cant put down $60 for?

Posted by NellyK

@morrelloman: They definitely need each other for sure. No doubt about that. I just don't think Microsoft or Sony would stand for Netflix undercutting their game profits. That's still their bread and butter.

Posted by BraveToaster

If Netflix did enter the game rental arena, I doubt their prices would be significantly lower than Gamefly. Hell, they decided to split streaming and movie rental as well as increase the prices of their membership plans.

Posted by StriderNo9

I'd like to roll my game rentals into a Netflix plan. I hope this works out in the end.

Posted by brownsfantb

I'm done with Netflix anyway so I don't really care. What kind of business is this unsure about what they're going to do? Why are they announcing things before they have everything in place? Amazon already has my money for Prime and they're giving me streaming on top of it so I'll just do that.

Posted by PenguinDust

Yeah, that's code for "NO" which saddens me because I would have paid the extra charge for the option provided it was a reasonable amount.

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

Are the still going to do this? I ask that because the last few choices were so poorly executed and so quickly retracted that I wonder if anything they said will stick. If I were they I would avoid renting games. It seems like a "too late" sort of idea. Maybe, four years ago it would he worked, but this is just about the time when they should be "getting out of" that business model.

If the figures are correct Netflix saw nearly a million customers walk away. It seems to me they should be spending ALL their resources on gaining most of those people back with some new ones in the mix, not trying to add risk with a new product line.

Posted by Xeirus

@brownsfantb said:

I'm done with Netflix anyway so I don't really care. What kind of business is this unsure about what they're going to do? Why are they announcing things before they have everything in place? Amazon already has my money for Prime and they're giving me streaming on top of it so I'll just do that.

Yeah......... I was completely baffled by everything they have done for months now. I was subscribed for well over 3 years and dropped them qwik (get it?). I can't support a company who has such little respect for customer and no idea how to make, and stick with, decisions.

One of the Netflix higher-ups said in an interview that they knew people were going to cancel and that they didn't care and couldn't do anything about it. I think the phrasing was something like "oh well these are our prices", as soon as I read that I logged into their site and closed my account. Guess what, if you don't care Netflix then neither do I.

Posted by bricewgilbert

This whole Netflix thing is sooo stupid. Stupid on Netflix's part for talking so damn much (they really haven't done anything though) and dumb for this zeitgeist of people leaving.

Posted by Aaron_G

Even if they did I don't think I would even care.

Posted by WilliamHenry

@brownsfantb said:

I'm done with Netflix anyway so I don't really care. What kind of business is this unsure about what they're going to do? Why are they announcing things before they have everything in place? Amazon already has my money for Prime and they're giving me streaming on top of it so I'll just do that.

Netflix knows what it wants to do but you act as if they can just magically get all the streaming deals they want for affordable prices. Its not Neftlix's fault they can't do that. They obviously thought breaking the company into two would help them move forward with streaming, but old media won't let that happen, so they had to back peddle on their new plans.

The more and more I read about Netflix the more I think its too ahead of its time. Streaming is the future but the rights holders aren't ready for it and if Netflix isn't careful, it will end up dead.

Posted by cexantus

Getting into the rental gaming business would be smart on Netflix's part. Being able to rent movies and games with one subscription? That's a deal people are willing to pay money for.

Posted by CheckPointD

That is exactly why I have never understood it when people argue that Netflix or the industry as a whole wants to go strictly digital. I can't forget to send a streamed video back or lose it under the couch for three months. There by paying Netflix to do nothing - which I am pretty sure the profit margin on is pretty good.

Edited by Godzilla_Sushi

It seems like an endeavor that won't pay off in the end. We are on the cusp of digital distribution on the consoles. Getting a brand out there and establishing a service will take about as long as the next console cycle release. At that point, a lot of expenses would have been put into packaging, shipping, purchasing, and re-shipping those games. It seems like a gamble that assumes disk sales will continue strong for a long time. We know Microsoft and Sony want to control their platforms and cut out the middle man.

Gaming is such a minefield right now. We're paying a hell of a lot of cash into an industry that lives on the cutting edge but needs an arm and a leg to do so on the console side of things.

Posted by tourgen

hope they can pull up out of the nosedive before they crash
 
anyway, I'm still contemplating renting game disks from Netflix.  Hopefully we can come to a contractual agreement soon.

Posted by Vadis

I feel like once everything is a digital download it will be much easier for them to do this, say by sending you key codes for 15 day trials or something. Getting a satisfactory number of copies of newly released games is extremely hard to do, so it isn't surprising Netflix is being iffy. They might not even be much faster at it than Gamefly.

Posted by Scad

There really does need to be some alternative to the completely horrible GameFly. I just wish the digital distribution-only world would descend upon us soon... *sigh*

Posted by Seon

Rent them Digitally to my 3DS!

...

I can dream can't I?

Posted by blaakmawf

Hey, news about indecision is pretty exciting, huh?

Posted by brownsfantb

@WilliamHenry: I wasn't talking about the streaming deals. I was talking about the announcement/unannouncement of Qwikster and they're wavering on games. They obviously didn't have everything in place to make such a move, so why did they announce it? Also, their CEO recently said that they won't be raising prices anymore which is just ridiculous. There's no way they can keep prices the same forever. They're obviously going to have to raise them at some point which is just going to make him look even more stupid.

I agree that Netflix was revolutionary but that doesn't mean they're going to survive. They don't seem to know what to do to sustain their dominance and I think they're going to fade away and probably get bought up by Google or someone in a couple years.

Posted by ColinVI

From my limited perspective, they have 6 months (max) to add this service before the price increase of the combined service destroys the value proposition. Just me .. but 6 months and ill figure out if I will drop them (streaming and disk).

Posted by Dagbiker

1/3 of xbox owners arnt connected to the internet, that means 1/3 of xbox owners will not buy digital xbox games

Posted by mancide

So when they were going to do Qwikster, they had decided to do video games. Now they haven't decided? Is Reed Hastings the most wishy-washy CEO ever?

Posted by NickBOTT

The biggest problem I had with Gamefly was the turnaround. I would send back a game, they would receive it 3-4 days later then take another 3-4 days to ship out my next game even if it was listed as having a high availability. With Netflix I send a dvd out one day the next day they would ship out my next dvd so I only wait two days, which would be nice for video games too instead of waiting over a week for a game.

Posted by Yakomo

Blockbuster already rents games... if you're on their 3 disk out plan it's way cheaper than Gamefly, and they have bluray and dvd's as well.

Posted by redbliss

Netflix lost so much ground in the movie rental business with the whole splitting dvds and streaming debacle. I wouldnt be surprised if was no longer feasible for them to do video game rentals, and I dont even know if they should be concerned with doing video game rentals anymore. Instead, they need to get back to something similar to their old pricing structure. They completely underestimated how much people use physical DVDs to watch movies.

Posted by HellknightLeon

I understand why they would not jump at the idea. we are just going to have to wait and see. I don't much care for them anyway.

Posted by brianbeatdown

@RBecho said:

Don't forget, Blockbuster does mail order games (with a limited in store trade in option). That is bundled with dvds / blue rays and streaming. The library isn't great, but it does exist (and it's cheaper than Gamefly). I am still a Netflix member, but it's been real tempting to switch lately, especially with the current releases coming out.

I had Blockbuster renting for awhile but the 90 day delay on getting new releases made me run out of stuff I was wanting to play pretty quickly. If they found a way to remove that (I'm assuming there's financial reasons), I'd be all in.

Posted by Alienatedgoose

I would be interested to see how Gamefly would react to Netflix entering the video game rental business.

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