For the last few months, I have been experimenting with my consumption of entertainment. Spending so much time at home kind of lends itself to this type of exploration. This has led me to try out the media-by-mail services of Netflix, Gamefly, and Blockbuster. Before I dig into my thoughts on the services and what I have chosen to stick with, let’s review the offerings and the prices.
- Unlimited one-at-a-time DVDs for $8.99 mo. (and Blu-Ray for $2 more)
- Unlimited streaming content including many movies and TV series
- two day turn around (return on Monday, get next on Wednesday)
- Unlimited one-at-a-time PS3/XBOX 360 games for $15.95 mo.
- Unlimited two-at-a-time for $22.95 mo
- Seven day turn around (return on Monday, get next on following Monday
- Offers DVD, blu-ray, and PS3/XBOX 360 games for a one-price plan
- Unlimited one-at-a-time movie/game for $8.99 mo
- Unlimited two-at-a-time movie/game for $13.99 mo
- Limited one-at-a-time, maximum two per month for $4.99 mo
I first tried out Netflix. As soon as signing up, I set up my XBOX 360 to deliver the streaming content to my TV. This, I found, more than made the service worthwhile. I was astounded by the amount of content available and was quickly able to catch up on my TV series that my attention had previously allowed to lapse. I opted for the blu-ray plan for $2 more a month, which has expanded the experience quite a bit for me. So far, I have always received the first movie in my queue and have only seen two titles show “short wait” as their status instead of “available” In short, this is a durn good service for the money.
To complement my movie viewing, I decided to try out Gamefly in hopes it would provide the same Netflix-like experience to my gaming addiction. It did not. I first tried out the two-at-a-time option thinking I would be burning through games left and right. The plan was hindered by the scant availability of every game released within the last four months. I found it sending me games from fairly low placements in my queue. What hurt the experience even worse, however, was the incredible slow turnaround time. I was paying $23 a month and was only getting 3-4 games out of it. After a couple months, I reduced the plan to one-at-a-time for $15.99, simply because I could not justify the $23. This meant I was now only getting to play 2 mediocre games a month, and half of the time, I did not have a game at all.
Just about the time I was really getting frustrated with Gamefly, Blockbuster announced they were offering DVD’s, blu-rays, and games available to all online subscribers for no additional cost to the plans. Better yet, the offered at $5 a month plan for a two-per-month (mix & match of all three media) max subscription. Seeing as how I was paying Gamefly $16 for a two a month, this $5 plan looked really good. So was it? well…sort-of. New release games through Blockbuster are not available for rent-by-mail for three months after their release date. While on the surface this sounds like a steaming pile, new release games through Gamefly weren’t showing up for at least three months either due to their high demand. As far as the game selection, it was pretty good and comparable to Gamefly and many of the older games did show as either “available” or “short wait”. I got my first selection in about 4 days after signing up and soon found out that the turn-around time pretty much sucked. It was taking 4-5 days after sticking a game in the mail that they showed it received and another day before they shipped the next one. In short, it was taking about 8 days to get my next game. The nice thing about Blockbuster, however, was that I could also return items in-store and they would show as received with an hour. This cut the turn-around time in half.
Gamefly sucks. Too much money for too little games. Don’t do it. Instead, I decided to opt for both Blockbuster and Netflix. I am now paying $25 a month and am getting unlimited streaming (now in HD and 5.1 surround through my PS3 thank-you-very-much), a new blu-ray sent to my home within 3 days, and unlimited tw0-at-a-time PS3 and Xbox games with a 3-4 day turnaround when dropped off in-store. Regrets? only that I wasted so much money on Gamefly. I just upped the Blockbuster account to two at a time and today received two copies of Singularity, one for Xbox and one for PS3. This was not intentional, just a side effect of trying to stack the queue in order to get certain games regardless of platform. I’m learning queue management, though, and don’t expect this to be a long-term problem.
Now the question you might be having is “why didn’t you just go with Blockbuster? Why Netflix too?” In short, Blockbuster does not offer the streaming the way Netflix does. The streaming pays for itself. Netflix for movies and TV, Blockbuster for games, Gamefly for…uh…
Netflix gets a whopping 10 precision Dexter style slayings
Blockbuster get a respectable 8 Mickey Rourke voice overs
Gamefly gets a sad 2 JRPG characters who will quickly become annoying and you will soon find yourself wishing for their demise
Disclaimer: I proofread nothing, nor do pay attention to spelling and grammar critiques