Blockbuster adds games to by-mail rental program

Total Access service will be expanded in the second quarter so those willing to pay extra $5 per month can get games from current consoles, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.

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GameFly is getting a new competitor in the by-mail gaming rental business. Rental chain Blockbuster today announced that it is expanding its Total Access by-mail rental program to include games in addition to the DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and HD-DVDs it currently offers.

Previously dominant in the rental space, Blockbuster has had its hands full dealing with Netflix and GameFly.
Previously dominant in the rental space, Blockbuster has had its hands full dealing with Netflix and GameFly.

Blockbuster's game rentals will be available to all of its mail-order customers nationwide in the second quarter of the year, with a catalog of offerings spanning the Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, and the original Xbox. As with the existing Total Access program, subscribers will be able to exchange games at Blockbuster retail locations for free movie rentals or half-price game rentals a limited number of times (which varies by subscription package).

Games are becoming increasingly intertwined with the home movie business. Users can already rent or purchase films and TV shows through their Xbox 360s and PS3s, and by-mail movie rental service Netflix has partnered with Microsoft to allow its subscribers to stream a portion of its library through the Xbox 360.

Despite the enhanced competition in the market of late, Blockbuster still boasts that it rents more games in the US than anybody else, in-store or online.

[UPDATE]: A Blockbuster representative clarified details of the program for GameSpot.

"During the test, we plan to charge subscribers a flat $4.99 for each month that they have a video game or games out from our by-mail service," the representative said. "If you don't take any game(s) out via the mail on your subscription in a given month, there's no charge. In-store movie exchanges will continue to be free, according to the Blockbuster Total Access plan, and games will continue to be discounted at $4.99."

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