Gamefly for all it's worth

Tales of a 102-month Gamefly subscriber

PHOTO: Courtesy of Gamefly

I signed up for Gamefly in middle school, when Need for Speed: Carbon was my must-have game for the original Xbox. I still remember opening the sleeve it came in and playing it all afternoon.

Fast-forward 102 months from October 29, 2006 and I still have that same feeling every time a game comes – when I have time to play it that is. My Gamefly copies of Assassins Creed: Unity and Dragon Age Inquisition have been sitting on my shelf since November.

December 29 marked my 100th month as a GameFly subscriber. At their current rates, my flux between a two-game plan at $22.95 per month and a three-game plan at $29.95 per month means I’ve given the ‘Netflix’ of gaming between $2,300 and $3,000 over the course of the past 102 months – not including the dozens of games I’ve kept at the discounts I’ve acquired as a long term member.

The mail-in game service has been my go-to way of receiving new games for years, and that won’t change anytime soon. I play dozens of games each year and buy less than four per year.

I can’t begin to describe the number of times I’ve walked from my room to my mailbox, eagerly waiting for my next game to appear, only to check another 15 to 20 minutes later. At one point I was convinced my mailman skipped our house until the end of his route when he saw that I had a game coming.

As a long time member, people often ask me what I think of a service that I’ve used for almost half of my life – it’s mostly positive considering I still use it, but there are a few things that can be improved.

For money strapped college students, buying a $65 game frequently isn’t an option. This is where Gamefly comes in handy. The two aforementioned games would cost $130 total. Why pay that when you can spend $15.95, $22.95 or $29.95, depending on how many games you want to have at any given time, and play those and many other games for a few months before reaching that combined cost?

After a game is sent, keeping it becomes a lot cheaper than buying it new. Members get $5 coupons every three months and a percentage discount that increases the longer you’re a member – it starts at 5 percent after being a member for six months and ends at 10 percent after 12-month membership or longer.

Take Dragon Age for instance. It shipped to me the day it came out, I got it two days later and I could keep it for $45, which is $40 with my $5 coupon, plus tax. They send you the case and all the other materials inside. That’s $45 to keep a brand new game and they’ll ship another game the next day.

The recent addition of Blu-Ray and DVD movie options is an added bonus to an already heavily cost effective service, depending on your time dedication to gaming or how actively you want to pursue the newest titles. Renting a movie is the equivalent of taking out a game.

New title availability, especially for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, has always been one of Gamefly’s biggest flaws.

Games ship out a day ahead of their release date to ensure they reach subscribers’ doors as close to release as possible, making availability for the newest and hottest titles, like Evolve or The Order: 1886 deplete quickly with no guarantee of when people will send back their copy.

It might take some waiting for the newest games, unless you plan accordingly.

New games might be difficult to get at times, but the service a sprawling library for each system that’s easy to search through. Renting a game is as simple as choosing the system you want it for and adding it to your GameQ, which can hold 50 games.

Perhaps my biggest problem with Gamefly isn’t the two to three day mail time to the shipping center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania each way. Nor is it the occasional availability of games – there are always others worth playing after all – it’s the benefits of being a member.

Ten percent off any game and an additional $5 coupon every three months is great … if you’re a member for 12 months to reach tier three with those perks, but that’s where those max out. Ten months shy of 12 times that membership time, I’m still waiting for my platinum bonus card or that next peg up in the membership program.

Either way, the number of games I’ve played through Gamefly combined with the speed and reliability of the service make it a great deal any day, regardless of if you play one game at a time for a few months or split your time between three months.

Minor complaints aside, I’ll still be waiting by my mailbox for my next game.

Maybe someone will return Evolve or I’ll get a copy of Bloodborne a few days after it comes out.