I'm a multiple-console owner (Wii, 360, PS3, PS2, PSP) with a full time job and proto-spousal girlfriend (live together, own house together, not married.) The deluge of games that arrived so far this year overwhelmed my schedule and budget. Call of Duty 4 really threw a wrench into things as I never thought I'd be sinking over 60 hours into the multiplayer mode. That game pushed Super Mario Galaxy and No More Heroes right off my "buy" list because I just didn't have the time.
So I decided to throw down for a Gamefly subscription. I was unable to find a definitive answer to the question "does gamefly suck?" so I took the risk and subscribed so I could find out for myself. The rest of this post is going to analyze the economics of the gamefly subscription.
For Starters all games I play fall into one of 3 categories:
1. I bought the game and didn't complete it.
2. I bought the game and completed it but didn't spend any other time with it (including online multiplayer) For this tier I expect 1 hour of entertainment per 4.5 dollars spent on the game. I derived this number from the cost of a movie ticket: 9 bucks to see a 2 hour movie. For this tier I would expect about 13.33 hours entertainment for the price of a $60 game.
3. I bought the game and played the shit out of it. 60 hours minimum. Only the best games of all time fall into this category.
The "1 out at a time" plan: about $15/month, $180/year
Now, let's break down that $180 membership fee.
If I assume that renting a game, completing it, and sending it back has "saved" me from buying a tier 2 game then I figure that I need to complete at least 3 games for my subscription to break even. That works out to 1 game every 4 months. In reality I NEVER take 4 months to finish a tier 2 game. I don't think I'll have any trouble keeping up with that pace.
Gamefly, however, will serve an additional purpose: to buy me some extra gaming time. When games like GTA IV release I will likely be purchasing it and spending most of my gaming time with it. I won't have time to get very far with any serious gamefly rentals. During these periods I'm going to focus on renting tier 1 games. Specifically I'm going to focus on games that I know my girlfriend will want to play. She does play video games but her unspoken rule is that she won't touch games that have a soldier or a monster or a spaceship on the box.
During April/May/June I'll be playing Mass Effect (yeah, CoD4 pushed that back on my list too!) and GTAIV. When the gf is around I can put some time into Gamefly'd Guitar Hero III, Okami (assuming it releases in April,) SSBB, and Mario Galaxy. Of course I'll have to take turns playing but that's fine. She's actually a pretty good gamer when she finds a game she likes.
The big question mark in this whole equation is Gamefly. If they can get me my games in a timely manner I think I can get through a whole bunch of games that look great but wouldn't have competed with the CoD4s of the world had I bought them. If they're slow and I get stuck with more than a week of downtime between games I think I'll have to increase to the 2-out at a time plan and try to find the time to finish 2 or 3 extra games this year.
I'm currently about to finish Ratchet and Clank for the PS3. I'm gonna try to squeeze in No More Heroes before playing Mass Effect.