With the death of Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and other video store remnants from ’90s, the idea of renting a modern game in the United States outside of GameFly is quite limited. And today that small pool got even smaller. Users have found out that Redbox gaming rentals have ceased immediately, only letting users buy titles inside the portable box of discs.
Even though there hasn’t been an official announcement regarding this decision, Redbox has commented on the matter through its support Twitter account. In a single reply, it stated that “games will continue to be available for purchase at the Box until early next year, but [Redbox is] no longer making them available to rent.” In other words, if you were planning on renting Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order this weekend, you’re either going to have to buy it from the box for $40 or play it elsewhere.
Since there wasn’t an official warning, would-be renters first found this out the hard way and posted to places like Twitter or Reddit. People in that specific Reddit thread were able to come together and realize that their state was also being effected by this silent policy, thus resulting in a bigger picture of what was actually happening.
Again, Redbox’s official non-support channels haven’t even acknowledged this sudden shift but some have guessed why this is happening. While game rentals were once translating into more sales for some games, theft was a constant problem for the company, according to someone claiming that they used to company. And while random Twitter users aren’t always the most trustworthy sources, most people who used this service would eventually hit this problem.
It wasn’t uncommon for a simple rental to turn into a bout with customer service as the box would sometimes spit out a blank case after the transaction. These thieves would strike in a few different ways. Some would scan the barcode, print it out, and place a fake paper “disc” back in the case. Others would just rip the barcode off and stick just that sticker back in the plastic case. Using pre-paid credit cards for permanent rentals was also another popular method. These schemes made it easy to, theoretically, steal every almost every copy of Far Cry 5 in a single city, causing hopeful renters to walk all around in that city for hours to find the game but finding paper discs and barcode stickers at every turn. Theoretically, of course, as the chances of that happening three times in a row seems unlikely. Seems.
Movies are cheaper and didn’t fall to these grifts as often. With little to no recourse to stop theft, it makes sense that Redbox is currently “assessing [its] games offering.”
[Image Credit: Redbox/Facebook]