Imagining game-rental future at Redbox, GameFly

I walked into a Blockbuster the other day and discovered it’s shutting down, which means no more game rentals from Blockbuster.

The store’s inventory fire sale proved a cruel testament that creative content is struggling in America.

Bored workers sold used copies of the great games “Frontlines” for $4, “NCAA Football ’10” for $4, and “Killzone 3” for $15. So sad.

Anyway, Blockbuster’s demise leaves two big corporate players in the game-rental business:

■ (which still operates like Netflix, via mail);

■ And Redbox (those red kiosks, popping up across the nation, full of movies and games).

GameFly and Redbox are both pretty great, and I can honestly swear I have no professional affiliation with them.

GameFly has two subscription plans. For $16 a month, GameFly mails you one game at a time. For $23 a month, you get two game rentals by mail at a time.

So for $192 to $276 a year, you can play every major game release via GameFly, rather than paying $60 to buy every new game that strikes your fancy.

Thus, GameFly makes sense mostly for regular/hard-core gamers.

On the other hand, Redbox charges just $2 per game rental, per day. But it doesn’t offer GameFly’s complete gaming library.

Thus, Redbox is best for casual gamers, and for hard-core gamers who don’t want to wait for GameFly’s mail delivery system.

Redbox does offer top-selling games. While I am writing this column, says my nearest Redbox kiosk is renting 36 games, for $2 a day, including:

■ “Prototype 2” for Xbox 360 – A good superhero game. I just awarded it three stars last week.

■ “Uncharted 3” for PS 3 – I almost chose this Indiana Jones-esque adventure as the best game of 2011.

■ “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” for Xbox 360, PS 3 and Wii – Super popular war game.

■ “Battlefield 3” for PS 3 – Even better war game.

■ “Mass Effect 3” for PS 3 – Possibly the best game of 2012, an epic action-adventure through space.

■ “Major League Baseball 2K12” for Xbox 360 and Wii – A four-star baseball experience.

■ “SSX” for Xbox 360 – A good one-day rental for snowboarding.

■ “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” – Decent kids play.

■ “Twisted Metal” for PS 3 – A fine one-day rental for explosive car-combat battles.

■ “Saints Row The Third” for PS 3 and Xbox 360 – A fantastic parody of the “Grand Theft Auto” format that also works straight-up as a sandbox/mission killer.

■ And “Just Dance 3” for Wii – To dance to pop songs.

Also soon headed to Redbox for Xbox 360 and PS 3, upon their release, are “Max Payne 3” and “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier.”

My advice: If you can afford to buy games, do so to keep the industry afloat. If you can’t, GameFly is smooth. And Redbox is easy and accessible, although game stocks sometimes run out without warning.

( retails for $16 and $23 monthly subscriptions – Plays fun games of all consoles. Site looks good and is easy to navigate. Easy to challenging games. Rated “E” through “M.” Four out of four stars.)

(Redbox retails for $2 per game per day – Plays fun games for consoles, but with limited variety and stock. Easy to challenging games. Rated “E” through “M.” Four stars.)

Contact Doug Elfman at He blogs at

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