Ever since GameFly came into existence riding on the wave of success Netflix's mail order-based DVD rental service previously enjoyed, many have wondered when Netflix would actually hop into the ring and start delivering video games itself. And for years now, Netflix has been staunch in its stance that it had absolutely no interest in getting into the video game market, effectively leaving Gamefly as the sole way to rent games for people who would rather not leave the house, when given the option not to do so.
As of today, that's all about to change. Eventually.
Effective "soon," Netflix is about to make a massive branding change, essentially splitting the company's online streaming business and its mail order media business into two distinct properties. A blog entry from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings outlines that the Netflix name will remain with the online streaming service, while the DVD rental business will be re-branded Qwikster. For everyone hastily scribbling down notes on jokes to make about this fairly awful new name, make sure to include the Qwikster Twitter account, which presumably is not under the control of the folks at Netflix--unless, of course, Qwikster's new mascot is a thoroughly blazed up Elmo who enjoys bench pressing, casual misogyny, and using the word "shyt" a lot.
Almost an afterthought in Hastings' announcement, though likely a fairly big deal for anyone reading this story on this website, is the fact that video games will be added to the Qwikster service. This will include Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii titles at the outset, and users who opt to rent games will incur a slightly higher subscription fee, much as anyone who rents Blu-ray discs does. There is no specific launch date for the games service, unfortunately. All the hastily photoshopped announcement image (see above) says is, again, "soon."
All of this craziness is likely in response to the massive bleeding of subscribers and utter vitriol hurled at the company following its latest round of price hikes. Netflix's stock has taken quite a tumble over the last couple of weeks, and Hastings is clearly trying to stop the hemorrhaging. Whether or not this will have much effect on that remains to be seen, but hey, at the very least we're getting some damn video games out of the deal.
Provided the selection is up to snuff, one must ask the question: Is this enough to get you to drop GameFly for good? And if so, what would GameFly have to do to get you to stay on as a customer?