The rumor that Microsoft will eliminate the second-hand market for games on its next Xbox console has popped up before, but we dismissed it as sheer lunacy. New details point to that rumor possibly being true, as well as a few other details about the new system. Could this be the end of second-hand games?
Blockbuster has released details on its new Games by Mail service. Subscribers to Blockbuster Online will be able to rent one game at a time, for the extra monthly price of $7.99. Any game rented will count against whatever your limit of discs out-at-a-time is, based on your plan. If you don't rent a game in a given month, you won't be charged the $8. Games will only be available for the Wii, PS2, PS3, and XBox 360; so no handhelds, and no classic titles (well, I guess the PS2 is a classic title). While this is certainly a better price than Gamefly (more than $16/month for a 1-game-at-a-time plan), it's sort of a dubious deal if you don't have a subscription to a by-mail game rental service.
Yesterday, The Consumerist talked with the Vice President of Netflix Corporate Communications, Steve Swasey, and asked him if Netflix would ever consider offering video games by mail, as its biggest rival Blockbuster seems to be considering. Swasey answered in the negative:
Video games are a different economic model than movies and TV episodes, on which Netflix concentrates to provide the greatest convenience, selection and value to consumers... Movies are perennial. A great movie from 1972 is still a great movie but who wants to play Madden '95?So... you're backing up your claim that video games are not perennial by bringing up a franchise that is released yearly? Of course the Madden games aren't perennial! I don't imagine many people have Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo (1972) in their queues, and I'm sure Netflix has a correspondingly low number of discs in stock. We're not asking you to keep a billion copies of Madden '95, just maybe some of Warcraft III, or Smash Bros Brawl, or Ico. Setting aside the poor argument Swasey presents, here's why Netflix should seriously consider getting into video game rental: It is estimated that Netflix will gain 2 million new subscribers from consoles alone in the next year. That's half of their projected subscriber growth for 2010.