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Unable to beat Netflix, Blockbuster swats at GameFly

Blockbuster adds game rentals to its by-mail service. It will offer over 3,000 titles, in addition to the 95,000 movies and television shows it currently offers.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Blockbuster ad announcing Games By Mail. Blockbuster

Blockbuster has decided to take on GameFly by offering over 3,000 video games in its By Mail offering.

According to Blockbuster, its mail service will now offer games for every major console, including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii, as well as titles from the original Xbox and the PlayStation 2. It was quick to point out that, unlike Netflix, it's the only company that delivers customers the option to rent movies, television shows, and games all in the same package.

The company isn't charging any more for the service by adding video games to orders. So customers who are paying as little as $8.99 per month now to rent movies and television shows (it currently offers 95,000 films and TV shows) and who now want to get games wouldn't see their fee rise.

Blockbuster started a pilot program earlier this year to test the viability of gaming rentals. Evidently that went well, now that the offering is available to all of its customers.

The decision to get into by-mail gaming rentals is a shot over GameFly's bow. GameFly, which delivers a Netflix-like service for video games, offers a wider selection of titles than Blockbuster--over 7,000 games--and has plans starting at $15.95. That said, the company doesn't rent movies or television shows, which could cause some of GameFly's more than 334,000 subscribers to switch to Blockbuster's all-in-one service.

Then again, it might not.

Blockbuster and GameFly are on two very different paths. Back in February, just a few months before Blockbuster announced that it would be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, GameFly filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public. The company still has yet to go public and there is no word on what the price on its shares will be, but it underscores the growth GameFly has enjoyed since its inception in 2002.

Meanwhile, Blockbuster has been trying to gain a footing in the rental business. Games are its latest attempt. It should be interesting to see if this move, unlike so many others that came before it, actually pays off.