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Blockbuster to add video games to Web rental service

Service will launch in the second quarter as a pilot program, but the company aims to make it available to everyone by the second half of the year.

Coming soon to subscribers of Blockbuster Video's Total Access service are video game rentals. On Wednesday the company announced it would be adding gaming titles alongside movies to its movies-by-mail monthly service as part of a pilot program.

This program will start in the second quarter of this year, and will only be open to a limited number of subscribers. The company hopes to have it available for everyone else by the "second half of the year."

Worth noting is that Blockbuster is making a notable distinction between the value of films and video games in its brick-and-mortar stores. Subscribers of the Total Access service currently get a handful of free in-store movie rentals each month, whereas for game rentals the company will simply be offering them at half price. Such movie and video game rentals are subject to due dates and late fees however.

Regardless, this program is an important step for Blockbuster, which Yahoo Finance recently put on its list of "15 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009." By offering video games only in its stores it was getting direct competition from a number of other games-by-mail services like Gamefly, Numbthumb, Gottaplay, and user swap site Goozex. This move also gives it a wider content offering over rival Netflix, which has been receiving much attention for getting its streaming service in a slew of new consumer entertainment devices.