GameFly launched in September of 2002 as a games rental service available through its website. Users were able to sign up and pay a monthly fee, either $15.95 or $22.95, and receive one to two games respectively. GameFly was a welcome alternative to other brick and mortar videogame rental services because GameFly allowed subscribers to keep the game for as long as they wanted and return it without any late fee. GameFly offers games for all major platforms from this generation and last generation, along with a PC beta that allows users to download games according to their subscription service. After nine years GameFly is expanding to meet the needs of its users, but is it worth the monthly subscription?
How GameFly Works
GameFly is an extremely simple service that only requires a subscriber to have a game console, a credit card, and a mailing address. Logging into GameFly for the first time you are greeted with the opportunity to sign up and either get your first month at a reduced cost or go for a ten day free trial. After the ten days or first month subscribers then pay a monthly fee for their selected number of games. Subscribers go through games available from GameFly and add them to a queue, much like Netflix. From there GameFly ships the games from your queue to your house from one of its five shipping centers. From there games arrive in a prepaid envelope and subscribers can play the game(s) and send them back free of charge. It's a simple process that is extremely enticing to those who don't have $60 to spend on a new game, let alone multiple games, per month.
Users also have the choice to keep their rented game and pay a discounted price, after that GameFly will send you the game box and manual along with your next queued game. By using the service consistently over time and gain access to money that can be used towards keeping games and the ability to rent three or four games at a time for $29.95 or $36.95 respectively.
Games typically arrive within three to five days depending on holidays and weekends. For the most part games arrive in a reasonably timely fashion, though there is the occasional problem. With the openings of new shipping centers GameFly seems to be able to ship games at a much faster pace compared to when they first opened.
It seems to take GameFly longer to receive your game than it takes the game to reach you. Games shipped back to GameFly can take anywhere from a few days to over a week for the game to be received and your queue to be updated. This can be especially frustrating when you send a game back so that it is timed to arrive within a window of time for a specific game. Also, like any mailing service, there is always the potential for losing games in the mail. Luckily GameFly has easy to work with customer service.
When you're talking about shipping $60 products that are easily broken back and forth through the USPS the probability for errors, thefts, and damages is pretty high. Luckily, GameFly works hard to keep its customers happy and that means that the customer service is both simple and easy to work with. If a game is scratched, lost, unplayable, or has anything else wrong with it GameFly is often willing to send you another copy of the game or immediately sending you the next game in your queue if that's your choice. When games seem to be taking far too long to arrive, usually two weeks, GameFly can be notified and they'll take the game off your queue after reporting it lost and then they'll send you your next game.
Basically, if you end up having a problem GameFly is very willing to work with you to figure out how to get you a new game as quickly as possible. The customer service representatives are always understanding and they always seem to be willing to figure out the problem instead of just telling customers to wait it out.
Availability is one of the biggest problems faced by GameFly. When a new game comes out tons of members are obviously going to put that game on the top of their queue and send a game back so that when the game is released it'll ship to them. The problem here is that GameFly only has so many copies of any given game, so when a new game comes out there is a very low chance you are going to get it within a few days of release. Furthermore, there are games that seem to be on low availability for months and months. Having a list of 20 games and only being able to play five of them because the other 15 are constantly at a "low" or "medium" availability.
It becomes frustrating when you pay a monthly fee and the game you really want to play is unavailable for months at a time. From a personal experience, I somehow managed to get Mass Effect 2 the day after it was available on GameFly but in my four years of using the service on and off that is the only time a game was sent to me when I really wanted it.
Who GameFly is for
GameFly is not a bad service, it is just a service that works for a very specific audience. People who can afford to buy a game or two per month don't have any foreseeable reason to sign up for the service. Sure, every now and then you can get a game that just came out or that you want to play. However, more often than not you will be receiving a game that is five or six spots down on your queue and is at least six months old. Basically, if you don't mind playing games that are not brand new and you can't afford to buy a game when it comes out then go for GameFly. It's a better choice than constantly buying used, and sometimes damaged, games from game stores and it is a very reliable service in terms of getting games to you in a reasonable time.
If GameFly could increase their availability it could be a really great product, as it stands GameFly is a product that is good for a specific audience that doesn't mind being behind in gaming. GameFly is meant to give gamers a way to get the games they want without having to spend a ton of cash each and every month, but with such a low availability for popular and recent games subscribers have to resort to playing older games while hoping to be thrown a bone once in a while.