The Demise Of Rentals Is Killing Gaming

Yesterday, Blockbuster announced it would be closing all its remaining stores by January, ending the era of a video chain that couldn't cut it in this new digital era. And with it, an old entertainment culture is lost: the renting of media.

As a child, renting games was a cherished past-time for me and my friends. Whenever a sleepover would occur, we would all go out to the local Blockbuster, and pick out a few multiplayer titles to challenge. Games like Medal of Honor: Rising Sun and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time would grace our consoles, providing hours of endless enjoyment.

Conversations would flourish on whether or not an individual should purchase or rent a title. Games were affordable for kids who didn't have much money. It also pushed developers to make longer, more memorable games so that consumers would buy rather than rent.

Yet this rent before you buy idea has faded away. While this sort of service is available online today, it isn't as publicized or as universal as it was during the PS2 and Nintendo 64 era. As well, many modern games are shorter than older eras.

Not to mention, even though places like Gamefly provide an online rental service, its a monthly fee rather than per game, making it awkward for players who just want one or two games. Surprisingly though, Gamefly makes an annual revenue of 101.5 million, showing that there still is some interest in this kind of purchase.

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There is also this idea of a physical effort, when it is much more convenient to just buy the game digitally off the PSN or Xbox Live. Face it; we are living in an era of digital convenience. By 2012, most of the titles I purchased were from a digital outlet, rather than Best Buy or FutureShop. But with this, comes the problem of laziness. Games hold your hands now, they are in many respects, much shorter. And even more than that, many of them are less memorable. Hell, the new Battlefield 4 campaign is only 4 hours long.

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Is this is the way games should be going, as a digital-only front? Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada said the PS5 will be just a controller, with the rest being an online service. Should Friday Blockbuster night be left in the dust? As much as online makes things convenient, it takes away many of the rituals and traditions that made up game culture. So as we now say a final goodbye to an important aspect of growing up as a gamer, what was your most memorable rented game?