In 2023, it may sound absurd for Blockbuster to stage a comeback. But it should, and here’s why: Video game rentals. Although movies, TV, music, and even books have made the leap to digital subscription platforms with (relative) ease, video games haven’t been quite so lucky. Sure, Xbox Game Pass is great, and it’s only a matter of time before internet access becomes widespread enough that cloud gaming becomes a viable business concept (pour one out for Google Stadia). But we also live in a world where games suddenly become unavailable or delisted from online stores, like the impending Nintendo eShop situation.
I can’t see myself leaving the house to rent a video game, but I love the idea. I enjoy playing bits of games to get a feel for the mechanics, innovation, and splendor, largely because I want to stay in tune with the zeitgeist and the video game podcasts I listen to.
While digital video game demos remain a thing, they are hit or miss in terms of showcasing the actual game. Some demos provide an accurate taste for the game, even allowing players who purchase the game the opportunity to pick up where the demo leaves off (Dragon Quest XI), while others are poor examples of the true heart of a game (Kirby and the Forgotten Land).
The notion (and memory) of renting a game for a limited time to play as long as my heart desires, and progress as far as my time can muster, feels like an unappreciated lost love.