Mail-Order Entertaiment

Posted: 08/08/2011 in Ramblings

I’m going to tackle two services I use in my life. They keep me connected to two of the major passions I have. Gaming and film. Now, I still buy a ton of Blu-ray/DVDs (I have almost 500), Netflix just makes it easier to watch films I don’t feel like buying. Plus, it keeps the fiancee from killing me. As for the gaming aspect? I use Gamefly. It isn’t the best service, but it keeps the costs down. I’ll get to that after I discuss Netflix.

To give you a little background information about me, I enjoy renting. I tend to purchase only things I fall in love with. When I was younger, I used to love going to the mom and pop video store down the road from me on a Friday and stocking up for the weekend. I would rent a few horror films and one video game. It’s what I spent my allowance on. Then Blockbuster (Lackluster) came to town. They put most of the video stores around me out of business and after renting from them once or twice, I decided that having my eyes poked out would be a better experience. From that point on, I figured buying my DVDs would make more sense. Lackluster charged $10 per DVD (after tax it came to about $12) and that was for only one viewing, and they had a terrible selection. I could get all of the B-grade and even A grade films I wanted online for less than that. I started my, now massive, collection. Renting games was just as bad. The few mom and pop stores that were left didn’t rent games and they had to raise their prices to match Lackluster. It was a no win situation. I resorted to only buying one or two games a year. I had to plan out and make the decision in advance. Sure, I could borrow one from my friends, but they mostly played crappy titles. Then, the heaven’s opened up and the first of two businesses presented themselves. Netflix, and later Gamefly turned out to be the answer to my dilemma. I joined both and haven’t looks back yet.

With the recent announcement that Netflx will be separating their streaming and DVD-by-mail services, there has been a lot of uproar online on the increase in cost. I have been a member of Netflix from 2005 on. Since then, I have dealt with the subtle price changes in the past. They seemed acceptable. The introduction of the streaming service was a welcomed addition that I have on 4 separate devices in my home. When they raised the price of the plans, I understood and I wasn’t even phased. You were getting a DVD rental service, and on top of that a nice perk to watch certain films and TV shows instantly. It helped me keep my DVD queue to only things that I needed as opposed to EVERY title I wanted to see. It helped me get through quite a few more discs in a month due to the fast turn around and the fact that I could watch TV shows anytime I wanted. I didn’t have to compromise with my 2 disc plan by ordering one film and one disc of a TV season. It didn’t break the bank either. My plan only cost me $10.41 a month. Now, Netflix has decided to split the two services. This isn’t unexpected as it is a smart business move. The only thing that gets me is that instead of keeping the streaming at the same price it was before the split ($5/mo), they decided to make it the same price as their one DVD at a time plan. That just seems like a stretch to me. Though, seeing as how watching films on Netflix Instant over my Xbox while talking to my younger brother(s) seems to be the only way I’ll get to watch films with them on a regular basis. So, I pretty much have no choice but to keep both services. I’m not going to go and cancel my subscription all together like some people seem to be doing. I’m not angry with Netflix. I’m just a little surprised they decided to raise the price of the streaming service itself. I couldn’t be happier with every other aspect of their business model, though. I hope they come to their senses by all of the knee-jerk reactions their members are having to the announcement. As of now, I haven’t been charged the new pricing. Older members won’t see that until their September statements.

Another service I use to help cut down the cost of buying discs is Gamefly. I have had a long standing battle with this company. It really is a love-hate relationship. I joined them when their service first came out. I thought, and still do think, that they had a great product on their hands. They allowed people to do the same thing Netflix was doing, only with games. Their pricing was a little more expensive, but well worth the alternative, or so I thought. The first time I joined, I was overzealous. I thought the two disc plan was for me. It was only $20 a month, which was a steal compares to spending $70 on ONE game. The first thing I noticed was the ridiculously slow turnaround. It was taking upwards to two weeks to get my games and at their fastest, I got them in just under a week. After two months, I called it quits. I cancelled my membership, or tried to. They never delete anyone’s membership, instead they place it on hold. I went about my way, looking for alternatives and the only thing I could do was go back to Lackluster. This was a hellish experience because my local store not only has a terrible selection of games, but it also has the worst rental policy ever conceived. They have altered it slightly over the years, but when I first started renting it was terrible. I could only keep the game for 3 days. After that I was charge $1.50 for each additional day. Now, it has been changed to $10 for a five day rental, but for every day it is out? That’s right, you get charged the entirety of the rental price. That is $10 per day. I decided to go back to Gamefly. I am using it now and I am relatively happy with it. I wish it was faster. I’ve decided that the one disc at a time plan is worth it for the $15 a month. It usually takes about a week to get my game, but I can play it for as long a I want, and rent as many games as I want a month. It let’s me play games I would otherwise skip. I still purchase the big games I am interested in each year and I eagerly await both Skyrim and Arkham City. After the abortion that was MW2, I’m just going to rent MW3 through Gamefly and keep it for as long as I want to.

Getting my entertainment through the mail can be a bit of a hassle sometimes. Mainly the speed at which my games come. I would love it if Gamefly got their act together like Netflix has and have a 2 day turnaround. They will get there, I just need to be patient. I’m not going to flip out like most members of Netflix seem to, though. When they see that people are unhappy and are cancelling their Instant/DVD services, they’ll reevaluate their prices. I enjoy it. I worry for the future sometimes. How Hollywood and Television companies seem to be trying to squeeze Netflix for more money. It will effect the status-quo, but not for a little while at least. Until I find something I like better, I’ll be happy to open my mailbox every few days to see a new game/DVD. And sit down at my desk/living room/flight and be able to watch Netflix from my Computer/Blu-ray player/gaming device/iPhone. I’m a consumer. Most importantly? I’m a nerd, a gamer, and a film fanatic.

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