GameFly commercials used to be everywhere. One of the early names in the national video game rental market, GameFly started with the same disc to home method as Netflix before expanding into digital rentals. However, they have since shut down the digital side of things while still offering a pretty solid rental setup on video games in exchange for a monthly subscription fees.
But setup is one thing, and practical use is another. So is GameFly worth the price, or should you pass?
As a general rule for avid gamers who play 5+ hours a day and don’t have the budget for new releases, GameFly can be a good deal. The general consensus for the casual gamer who only plays a couple hours of video games a day or less is that GameFly isn’t worth it.
So how are you supposed to know if GameFly is worth trying out or if you should just skip it completely? We’ve got your answers below with an in-depth look at the pros and cons of GameFly, as well as the very specific situations where it might be worth it.
And the many reasons that for most gamers it will not be worth it.
Who Can Benefit from GameFly?
There are some very distinct groups who can benefit from the subscription model that Gamefly offers. But first, let’s quickly look at the costs. You can’t know if a service is “worth it” if you don’t know what you’re paying for it.
- $9.50/month for the first three months, then $15.95/month for 1 game at a time
- $13.50/month for the first three months, then $22.95/month for 2 games at a time
Those are the two options. After three months you do get $5 off every third month as a loyalty reward. The standard rental setup applies where you can rent and send back as many as you want, rotating through your queue.
So with those details, who may want to look at GameFly as an option?
Very Rural Areas
If you’ve never grown up in a truly rural area, you might be surprised how many places have very, very poor Internet service. Nearly 9 million people still use dial up Internet in the United States, and approximately 19 million Americans have no access to Internet that would be considered the absolute minimum for broadband.
And there are many places that may hit the numbers just above threshold but based on personal experience dealing with those Internet companies…there’s a lot of people counted as having good broadband internet who for all practical purposes actually don’t.
So if you love gaming but can’t rely on the other digital options that require bandwidth, then GameFly could be an excellent option. Especially if your mail service is good.
This can allow you to try several games on console without worrying about the need to connect online, and lets you quickly return the games that clearly were meant for online multi-player or just don’t suit your tastes while bringing in games that you do enjoy.
This also means if a run to the nearest game store is a 3 hour or 4 hour journey (and I have lived in places like this) that you don’t end up blowing money on a couple of games you hate.
Just the savings on gas and food on those trips can fund a couple months of a GameFly subscription. So if you love the very isolated place you’ve found to call home but still want to keep up on gaming, GameFly might actually be one of your best or most practical options.
Catering to Very Short Attention Spans
There are some gamers who have very short attention spans. There are also kids who jump from one game to another to another to another. In those cases having a monthly subscription could be way cheaper (and easier on the mental state) than buying a lot of expensive games or listening to the pleading for yet another $60 title.
In these cases you can queue up the games, start the rotation, and mark it down as a monthly budget expense that you’re more than happy to pay because of how it compares to the alternative.
New Game Fanatic with a Low New Game Budget
I’ve always been a gamer who was happy to wait 3 years until the hot new game has become sale rack fodder. This wasn’t intentional, I was just very, very poor as a college student who couldn’t afford games most of the time, much less new ones. In the end I still got to play all the games I was excited about and spend $15 instead of $65 so it worked for me.
If you’re not patient, have friends playing online multiplayer games that have a bigger gaming budget than you, or you’re making a run at streaming/YouTubing career, then you want to be able to play those new games whether on Switch or Console and you need to be able to flip through them or keep at them as the game/situation dictates.
GameFly gives an alternative. Keeping in mind that the subscription still costs something, considering new games can run in the $50 to $70 range that means you could pay for a three month subscription with one game purchase, and not be stuck with a bad game or one you dislike. In fact you can play multiple games over those three months instead of being pigeonholed.
The number goes up if you’re fine with only having one rented game at a time versus two.
If the monthly expense is one you can absorb, it might be worth a look as a stop gap measure until you can make more money or look at other options that open up down the road.
The Elephant in the Room (Reviews)
There is one elephant in the room with GameFly that needs to be addressed, especially after combing over thousands of customer reviews on the service.
And that’s a big problem because it changes the equation completely for whether or not the subscription is worth it. If you can burn through three games that don’t have much gameplay or you don’t care for them but then find a game you do want to pour hours into, that’s one thing.
If you play a game for part of a day, realize you hate it, and have to wait 2 weeks for another one to arrive hoping it’s not a bomb…well that’s a different experience entirely.
If those 2-week shipping delays are common or apply to you then it’s hard to see any scenario where Game Fly would be worth it once you have that really big boulder weighing the service down.
Who Is GameFly Worthless For?
There are a lot of groups where the GameFly subscription just doesn’t work well and unfortunately that incldues a lot of the people who would consider this type of service.
Look, this is not the time or place to rehash the console vs PC argument or the admittedly hilarious meme war that this argument has spawned for years. Which in online years I think counts as a multi-generational feud at this point.
But if you love PC gaming or are at least willing to jump on the PC as opposed to your Nintendo Switch, PS4, or XBox One then aside from the occasional console only release…why would you do anything else?
Especially considering the multi-time a year Steam Sales often see games at 80% or even 90% off so even if there are a couple console games you want to play, when you can buy 15-20 great games on a Steam Sale for $100-125 then chances are you have more gaming than you could ever get done in a year and that’s before breaking into Elder Scrolls or the next Steam Sale where you’ll no doubt buy even more because, hey, when are they ever going to be that cheap again?
If you use Steam a lot there’s virtually no reason to get a GameFly pass for non-Steam games. You have plenty to game with until you can get player reviews of console games you’re interested in and make sure they’re not a dud.
That limit of one or two games at a time is going to rustle the feathers of really avid gamers who have a lot of hours to game. Because GameFly’s 1-2 game at a time limit depending on the subscription you choose is a low ceiling for restrictions and it’s only a matter of time until you run into it.
In addition, if you’re an avid gamer, chances are you have a pretty good feel for the pulse on what companies don’t care at all about gamers, which actually care about making great games, and what rumors both good and bad surround an upcoming title.
So the safety net of a rental won’t come up as often. There’s also the fact that for really avid gamers, chances are they already have Game Pass, PlayStation Now, or both.
If that’s the case, there isn’t any gap left for GameFly to fill, and it would be a pointless subscription to add.
Gamers with Big Budgets
If you have the money to buy a lot of games, renting a couple at a time doesn’t make nearly as much sense. While you would hope not to make a lot of terrible buying decisions, if you’re okay with taking a hit or two then why deal with the wait for new games to show up?
You can make purchases and just not play the games you don’t like. Especially with a big enough library.
In those cases the GameFly subscription is not worth it and that makes sense since this is not the ideal customer base for GameFly anyway.
Anyone with Slow Mail Delivery
Yeah, if you are limited because of slow mail to 1 or 2 titles a month tops all of a sudden that monthly fee looks way too high. If speedy mail delivery is an issue where you live, it’s time to pull the plug on the idea of keeping a GameFly subscription that you’re just not getting enough value out of.
The Big Problems with GameFly (The Competition)
One of the biggest reasons GameFly won’t be worth if for most people is the competition. Consoles are coming out with their own version of a digital rental service which stamps out the need to get it from a third party in many situations.
If you own an XBox then chances are pretty good that you use Game Pass if you use any game rental services at all. If you own a PS4 then you probably use PlayStation Now to try a game out. There are plenty of serious gamers who have both consoles and both of those services because they make perfect sense.
As long as a gamer has the internet connection to consistently connect these are undeniably great rental options for Xbox and PS4 players. Which clearly leaves any 3rd party providers out in the cold.
Add in the fact that there are so many PC gamers who spend most of their time in a combination of PC and Switch and that’s a large chunk of the market that just doesn’t really need those services. Especially considering how insane the Steam sales can get, and how many great independently developed games they give access to.
So Is GameFly Worth the Monthly Subscription?
For most gamers the answer is probably going to be no. The GameFly model can be a great one the problem is that it’s also limited to the groups it works well for.
So when you throw in any issues at all with delivery times, as well as competition from digital services that do the same thing (and to many gamers’ eyes arguably better) like Game Pass or PlayStation Now, or the incredible seasonal sales that see 80% off of many PC games on Steam, well it’s hard to compete with that.
That said, if you find yourself in one of those very specific groups where maybe the digital setup doesn’t work as well, or the internet infrastructure is crap, then GameFly might
- Subscription alternative to buying expensive new games
- Lets you try them out before buying
- Serves the fully array of popular consoles and platforms
- Gives gaming options to some otherwise underserved bases of gamers
- Very up-front about what’s delivered
- The $5 loyalty rebate is a nice touch
- Relying on shipping times is dangerous and many times seems to fail
- Simply not as good an option as PlayStation Now
Your Most Common GameFly Questions
Is GameFly a good deal?
For most people GameFly will not provide enough benefit for the monthly subscription price. On a recent poll on Game FAQs forum the numbers came in at 87.5% saying GameFly was not worth it and only 12.5% saying it was. As this article indicates it’s a very narrow niche of people who will likely find it a good deal, but for those people it is probably worth giving a shot.
How long does GameFly take to ship?
Officially the company says 3 to 5 business days however many customers have complained of 2 weeks being a more standard timeframe, which definitely affects the question of just how valuable a subscription actually can be.
Does Netflix own GameFly?
No. While this can be an understandable question considering how similar the models of business look (at least in Netflix’s early days compared to now) they do not own GameFly. They are an independently owned company that has sold off assets to other companies (most notably their digital assets to EA back in 2018) but they are their own private company.
Can you rent consoles from GameFly?
Yes, you can, which is one of the more interesting features. However keep in mind that if you did this for a year you could have just saved up to buy the console.
Does GameFly have late fees?
No, there are no late fees. You keep the game or console until you’re done using it, then ship it back for the next one on your queue.
Is there a reason to get GameFly if I have PlayStation now or Game Pass?
Honestly, probably not.
GameFly: The Final Verdict
At a time where many companies have found their survival switching from mailing physical media to digital (Netflix in particular has become a juggernaut with this shift) it’s hard to see GameFly thriving by going in the other direction. However, they are still around in 2021 and don’t seem to be in any danger of folding up.
Add in the fact that they’re a great option for certain niche customers that can’t actively use Steam or download options and they might have a really good niche service business going.
That said, more complaints about delivery times, rental limitations, and the serious competition from other platforms also have put GameFly in a very limited box that it’s hard to see them popping out of any point in the future.
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.