Will decision impact subscriptions?
LOVEFiLM’s recent decision to phase out its game rental service by 8 August has been met with some criticism online. The only rationale provided thus far is that it wants to focus on “providing the best selection of film and TV content.” But what prompted this drastic change, and what impact will it have on a subscriber base of over two million?
I received an email from LOVEFiLM last week instructing to me to tie my login details to my Amazon account. Obviously, having heard of the changes taking place, I was careful to check the small print in the Terms and Conditions, but could find no mention of the abolition of the game rental scheme.
With LOVEFiLM now firmly in the Amazon stable, it’s not surprising that the online retailer may see the game rental scheme as costly, no doubt equating every rental as a lost sale. But surely, when leveraged in the right way, they could have easily introduced some kind loyalty scheme where gamers who enjoy a particular rented title can then purchase it directly from Amazon at a reduced price. Being able to dip your toes into a game before making a purchase is the main reason gamers use the service. I’ve played hundreds of pounds worth of games through my subscription, which has translated into purchases of almost equal value.
Lets also remember that, on the cusp of a new generation – and following the debacle that was Microsoft’s pre-owned policy reversal – games will still be freely available on disc. Gamers will still be able to trade in their old titles and rent new ones. Sure, Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai has cemented their intentions to bring streaming technology to PS4, effectively eliminating the need to buy physical media – gamers will now be able to stream games instantly to their consoles and try before they buy. But Sony has confirmed publicly that they are not closing the loop. They will allow gamers to swap titles with each other freely. The same will be true for Xbox1.The rental market will still be around next gen.
My current subscription of £11.99 per month for two discs is now defunct. This is probably the first step in fazing out its physical media altogether and focusing purely on digital distribrution over the next couple of years. Amazon no doubt feels that it needs to trim the fat to ensure it can contend with Netflix and other streaming services.
In light of the above, I will be dropping my subscription down to LOVEFiLM’s ‘streaming only’ service (£4.99) and sourcing an alternative rental scheme over the next few weeks. The most promising alternative I’ve come across is Boomerang Rentals but if you have any experience of other providers in the UK, please leave a comment with your suggestions.