Netflix Can Haz Video Games, Kind Of

Dear Reader,

As you no doubt heard, Netflix is bifurcating its services into a streaming division (which will continue to be known as Netflix), and the DVD-by-mail operation, which will now be called Qwikster. More interestingly for us gamers, Qwikster will now offer game rentals, a service Netflix customers have been chomping at the bit for for some time. This is not good news, though, and I can prove it in two ways.

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First, removing the Netflix brand name from their DVD service shows just how little confidence the company has in the future of snail mail. No one in the entertainment industry is looking to the land of discs for the future anymore, that day is past. Netflix knows this better than anyone. So them finding a way to remove their freaking name from the envelope tells me that they don’t see Qwikster as a long-term investment.

Second, video game rental is a tough business: the product is expensive, the new stuff gets gobbled up so fast you can’t dream of keeping it in stock, and your customers have a bad habit of never returning the merchandise. I think Netflix has avoided it thus far because they know these facts. Getting into it now, when Gamefly is already established, tells me that Qwikster is a sinking ship, and they don’t care what happens on it. But they don’t want to admit that, so they look for token gestures that will make people think they’re still invested in physical mail. They’re not.

In summary: games on Qwikster is a gesture, nothing more. Your best hope is that it actually does decently, and maybe someday they’ll build a Steam-like digital rental platform. But for now, don’t burn your Gamefly accounts.


sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers