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HIVE EXCLUSIVE: Blockbuster, Rental Channel to Play Important Role for Next-Gen Games

5 Sep, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

With the launch of Xbox and GameCube this fall, and the steady stream of AAA titles for PlayStation 2, the rental channel will play an important role over the next five-year cycle, as consumers have three systems to choose from, ranging from $199 to $299, and a steady flow of quality games, which will retail for $50 each.

”We believe that Blockbuster is the ultimate destination for trial of software and hardware and although history has proven that no more than two consoles have successfully existed at any one time, we anticipate that this will change this fall with the introduction of Nintendo's GameCube and Microsoft's Xbox, along with Sony's Playstation 2,” said Steve Lundeen, v.p., interactive merchandising for Blockbuster Video.

“The consumer will be faced with more choices than ever before and we believe that rentailers will play an important role in the decision process. Due to the wider selection out there and the fact that each of these systems is a substantial financial commitment, it is much more affordable to rent first and then purchase once they are satisfied,” Lundeen added.

Lundeen confirmed that Blockbuster, which already rents PS2, PS, N64, Game Boy Advance and Dreamcast systems and games, will have GameCube and Xbox hardware and software available for rental for each system's fall launch, Nov. 8 for Xbox and Nov. 18 for GameCube.

While rental was scorned in the past, the video game industry is starting to realize the importance of the rental channel for game trial.

“It has taken a few years, however every major manufacturer and publisher nowrealizes the important role rental plays in the decision process,” said Lundeen. “In a recent study conducted by our internal marketing research department, 70% of our gamemembers stated that renting the game is what led them to purchase a game. The 'try before you buy' or even, more simply, just 'try and try another' is a great, economical option for gamers. It's reasonable to believe that this venue will continue to be of growing importance to publishers.”

In addition to renting hardware and software, Lundeen said that Blockbuster is still interested in testing the video game sales waters.

“We currently have a wide selection of previously played games at great prices on all platforms along with new games for sale at Blockbuster.com and are in themidst of testing various other concepts in a number of other locations.”

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