bodyguard – Perils and Pitfalls of Online Video Game Rentals

We have seen several nice video game rental comparison sites, with nice tidy, colorful little charts, outlining all the advertised features of each one. We stress the phrase ‘advertised features’. There seemed to something lacking in these review sites… honesty, maybe. To be more precise, they were lacking an authoritative presence. In effect, these ‘review sites’ were just a page, collating all the game rental advertising in one place. Rather than make any recommendations that could really help their visitors, they would just put their affiliate link for all of the companies on the page, and let the potential renter fend for himself.


So began our quest to do it the right way. To our knowledge, it is the only online video game rental review page of its kind.


Since we already belonged to many gaming forums, what better place to start doing some preliminary research. In many cases, forum members had already posted some off-topic threads pertaining to game rental experiences. The nice thing about these posts, was the unsolicited, brutal, scathing honesty. There was no candy-coating of the ugly truth to be found anywhere. After following about a dozen of these threads in as many forums, we were already better equipped to make some recommendations, rather than just telling our visitors, “Here! Just pick one.”


The forum research allowed us to narrow down the field to three notable candidates, that at least deserved a chance to prove or disprove themselves. We really did not want to pay for ten different game rental subscriptions, and after our preliminary forum research, we saw no reason to. In fact with two of them, we really would not feel comfortable giving them our credit card information.


So basically, we went with ‘the Big 3’. If you have done any shopping for a game rental company at all, you know who I’m talking about. We will avoid naming names, due to our severe aversion to lawsuits. I suppose in all fairness, our experiences could have been unique, but I sincerely doubt it.


Here is the bottom line; the nitty-gritty that the ‘review’ sites don’t tell you (because they really don’t know). We’re guessing that these ‘review’ sites are put up by hard-working webmasters, who probably haven’t played a video game since their College Days. They have a lot of useless data on the site, but no real user experience.


There was one real winner in this comparison, and two losers. We will summarize the shortcomings of the losers.


1) Poor condition of games shipped. We found it to be more than a little frustrating to eagerly anticipate playing a new game we had heard great things about, only to be plagued with ‘disk read error’ every time we tried to start it. We would clean and buff and pamper this thing repeatedly. No good. We are adults. We can only imagine how frustrating this would be for a kid, whose sense of time operates more in the realm of ‘dog-years’. It would feel like eons had passed, waiting for the next game to arrive.


2) Shipping the wrong games. We tend to think the smaller companies just do the best they can, trying to make their limited inventories stretch to cover the needs of their customer base. We are sympathetic of their situation, when 50% of their subscribers are all demanding to play Lost Planet for Xbox 360, but it is not our problem. We are not in the game rental business. They are.


3) Customer support. Our support requests concerned the above. Again, we understand the difficulties the Little Guys in the game rental business must face. We also know when we are getting waltzed by support. Undoubtedly, the seventy five angry customers who spoke to the support person before us, had probably exhausted all support’s good lines, to cover the shortcomings of the company. That doesn’t mean we like having our intelligence insulted any better. Just tell us you ran out of the title we requested, and you’ll get it to us as soon as one becomes available.


These are the only problems we encountered in our research, but they are huge problems that define the entire online game rental experience. If we were not just testing these guys, we would have been really angry, and would have regretted joining two out of the three.

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