If I had the power of Oprah I would do a yearly or regular column called Michelle’s favorite things (hey, I still may do that) and one of those things would be GameFly. I know they probably hate the comparison – but I like to think of them as the Netflix of Gaming. I’ve had issues with the poor delivery times in my neighborhood; especially compared to how fast Netflix is. I’m still a big believer in Gamefly and think there’s a lot of opportunity for continued growth. I once interviewed the President and Founder years ago at E3 when they were just starting, so I thought now would be a great time to check in with the service. I recently conducted an extensive email interview with Sean Spector, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Content, GameFly.
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Can you tell us a bit about what GameFly is and it’s services?
GameFly is the leading video game rental subscription service. We rent games for consoles and handhelds including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. Our members can rent the most popular new releases and favorite classic games from a library of more than 7,000 titles. There are no due dates, late fees or shipping charges with the service. Members can pick their titles and manage their GameQ online from the website or from their mobile device through GameFly’s popular application, GameCenter. If a member really likes a game, GameFly offers the option to purchase that game at a discounted price, usually, 20%-30% below retail week one.
What was the inspiration for the idea?
When we started the company in 2002, we were avid gamers who wanted to play many more games in a year than we could afford. We knew that other game enthusiasts like us would appreciate a service where they could rent as many games as they wanted for one low monthly price. GameFly allows you to keep and play the game for as long as you want, then send it back and get something new – and our subscription plans are very affordable. The service also allows you to try the game out before buying it so you don’t feel like you invested in a bad game. The service works really well for individuals and families who play through games regularly and like to try a lot of different games without making the big investment in every title.
I live in the Maryland area and delivery time is terrible, I mail a game back on Monday and do not get a replacement until Saturday, by comparison with Netflix, I send out a DVD on Monday and have a replacement by Wed., how do you plan on addressing these delivery issues?
GameFly currently ships games from four distribution centers around the country. We evaluate opening more distribution centers all of the time and expect to open at least one more in the next 12 months. We always listen to our customer’s feedback and review delivery data to identify problems and improve the service levels. Please continue to let us know if delivery times don’t meet your expectations.
A few years ago there was a story making the rounds that GameFly was “throttling” loyal users by not giving them the same que priority as new users. I’ve noticed this myself, when I first signed up several years ago, I received almost all of my top selections, but in the last year, unless I my Que is empty when a new release comes out, I’m not going to receive that release for at least two months. Can you address this?
Although we believe other subscription services may have admitted to throttling, GameFly has not engaged in this type of demand management.
You recently added content to your website, what was the purpose behind the move to hire a prominent former video game editor to manage this new initiative?
GameFly is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive video game-related content and information to gamers. Having access to this content allows them to make better, informed decisions on which games to play and that leads to increased enjoyment. We have several divisions, including GameFly Media that develops and publishes a network of content websites, as well as a division dedicated to mobile applications. Under GameFly Media, we publish ShackNews, which offers news, editorial and features on computer and console games, as well as Weekend Confirmed – the Video Game Show, a podcast hosted by Garnett Lee, our new editorial director. Garnett’s deep knowledge of the game industry and fan following allows GameFly to reach even more gamers.
What are GameFly’s plans for the upcoming Holiday Season?
GameFly offers gift certificates for the gamer in your life. You can save up to 20% off the regular price when you give the gift of games. Some people find it more convenient to give a subscription as a gift rather than choosing a specific game. Gift certificates are available for 1, 2, 3, 6, or 12 months.