On the outside, it seems like a great idea. Pay a small fee, rent games, return them when you’re done and they’ll send you a new one from your ranked queue. Yeah, but that’s not what’s really happens. Here are a few things that you should know about GameFly before signing up:
Shipping: GameFly subscribes to the highly efficient mode of shipping used by Netflix, in that you literally only receive the game disc in the mail. No manual or original packaging, which isn’t really a problem for me, but some gamers actually like to look at the manual before diving into a new game. You can always do a quick search online for the manual if you need to, but it’s something that new folks should know off the bat.
Returning Games & Wait Times: There are no return dates, meaning that you can keep a game til you’re ready to give it up. Only problem is that everyone else can do the same thing, meaning that the availability on most online or open world games (aka all the cool games) is pretty low, so you’ll be waiting awhile to play them. However, I will hat tip GameFly for having a super efficient yet somewhat confusing system for processing returns. As soon as they receive your returned disc, they’ll bypass the time that it takes to update whatever online database that they’re using and just send you another one. It only gets confusing when you look online and see that you have two games out. No worries! That’s just a simple website glitch.
The GameQ: The GameQ, like the cake in Portal, is a lie. True, there was a cake, and yes, there is a GameQ, but neither is as promised. It’s really more of an array than a queue, if you want to get technical. The idea behind the GameQ is that you find 10 or more games that you really want to have shipped to you and you rank them in order of which one you want first. Then, you start to receive games, but not necessarily the top game in your queue. Based on some equation that factors in a vague availability system (more on that later), location, shipping and a little sprinkling of bullcrap, you will receive the game that is next available to you. So here’s a top tip: if you want to have a chance in hell of receiving a game that you actually want from GameFly, you should probably call the video game studio, ask them what the name of their next new game is, search for it on GameFly and put it in your queue before it even has a release date. Even then, however, if a hundred people put it in their queue first, you’re still screwed. Basically, there is no logical way to get the games that you want using GameFly.
Availability: GameFly’s downfall is the GameQ, which is sad because that’s the focal point of the whole system. It’s how consumers communicate with the GameFly database, and, sadly, it’s how GameFly communicates with us. The most frustrating thing about GameFly is that games rarely have an availability level over “Medium” and most games in my GameQ are stagnant at “Low” or “Very Low”. The “Available Now” rating is fleeting, and has normally gone back to “Low” or “Medium” in the time that it takes for a game to get from my mailbox back to a processing warehouse. Occasionally, if a game’s availability is super low, the website will suggest that you just rent it on a different system. Now that’s pathetic. It’s really not ok to let the consumer know how constantly severely under-stocked you are.
GameFly’s main issue is that they don’t get it. They don’t get gamers. We like things now. Sure, we’ll wait it out like we’ll go through the 99 hours that it takes to become strong enough to defeat Sephiroth, but only if we know that at the end of the wait, there’s definitely going to be something worthwhile. Having gamers wait weeks or even months for games is very stupid. I’ve had GameFly for about two months, and I’ve already bought two of the games in my Q just because I got tired of waiting. I’ve received three, and only one was at the top of my list (and I didn’t receive it first).
If you’re interested in GameFly, give it a try. It’s only like $10/month, so you’re not really losing any money while wasting your time. Honestly, though, you’re better off just buying the games that you want used or from Amazon and returning them to your local GameStop when you’re done.