- Editor Rating
- Rated 3 stars
- Blockbuster Online Video Game Rental Service
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
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- Company ReputationEditor: 50%
- Customer ServiceEditor: 60%
- FeaturesEditor: 70%
- FunctionEditor: 100%
- Value For The PriceEditor: 20%
Blockbuster Online offers users the ability to rent from thousands of video games for one low monthly price.
Blockbuster as a business has been around since 1985 with brick and mortar stores providing film rentals to eager movie lovers. Since then they saw a huge increase in the amount of stores and became a national chain and a household name. Unfortunately, the economy in a downturn plus competition like Hulu Plus and Netflix entering the marketplace was a huge hit for the company. They saw a severe decline over the past few years resulting in the closing of hundreds of their stores and the company filing for bankruptcy. This lead to the eventual sell to Dish Network the current owners of the company.
Since their move to Dish, the company's main focus has been on the mail order DVD rental and video game market with a much smaller emphasis on the brick and mortar business. Notably there are a reasonable number of Blockbuster stores still open for business. Since I personally stream almost everything I watch besides regular live cable television, so I decided to put the Blockbuster Online service to the test for video game rental use only. After having a horrid experience testing a competitor named GameFly, I had low expectations for the service and hoped it would be a satisfying experience.
The Blockbuster subscription is very reasonably priced and in comparison to competitors it is significantly more affordable. If you were to go with the GameFly service , the 1 disc at a time plan is $5.96 more expensive than Blockbuster each month and the 2 disc option is $7.96 more expensive. As for a comparison of the features they are both very similar. The range of games and systems that are carried are on par for both services. I prefer the Blockbuster's online interface over GameFly's personally, but when it comes down to it they both feature a similar queue system and are fundamentally the same.
The GameFly service's main feature advantage over Blockbuster is the unlimited PC streaming service (thought from experience I know this doesn't work very well whatsoever). Blockbuster on the other hand allows for free immediate in-store exchanges at local Blockbuster stores. Unfortunately, due to the closing of so many of these stores in the past, they are scarce and hard to come by. So in the end neither has a real effective feature advantage over one another, but the affordability of Blockbuster puts it on top in terms of overall features for the price.
As I stated earlier, my expectations of this service were fairly low after experiencing how terrible the GameFly service really is. Unfortunately, I found out that hard way that the Blockbuster experience is no better than GameFly. The main and most critical issue is that though there is a decent selection of games and an easy to use interface, the availability of the the games is very poor and unacceptable. To understand this better reference the screenshot below:
I had 13 different games (Mafia 2 was also in this queue, but not shown here) I was interested in renting from the service and since I signed up for the 2 disc plan, I was excited to get to play at least 2 of them within the month trial period. These 13 games sat in my queue for 2 and a half weeks straight with none of them being available to ship. This is pretty ridiculous in my opinion, especially since some of the titles are over a year old and not very popular. Finally, I got an email saying that Mafia 2 shipped and since it was so late into the trial, I knew it was going to be cutting it close. The game showed up at my door about 5 business days later leaving me with only a few days to play the game and send it back before my trial was over. To top it all off, the included prepaid envelope that the game came in was damaged and had a huge hole in it, requiring me to tape the envelope shut in order to ship it back.
To sum it up, out of a 1 month testing period and 13 games in my queue from the beginning I received only 1 title and was severely disappointed. If it weren't a free trial and I had paid for that month, I would have contacted support and asked for a refund.
The Blockbuster Online experience was much worse than I expected. The wide selection and low monthly rate are very attractive at first glance. Unfortunately, the poor availability and slow shipping times make this service a real disappointment and not worth paying for. I can not suggest an alternative since GameFly's experience is just as bad with no other popular competitors in the space. Hopefully, a competitor will enter the marketplace that can actually nail the execution of this particular business model.