GameFly used to be called “The Netflix of Games,” but that nickname no longer works, does it?
After all, Netflix started transitioning away from shipping movies to streaming them all the way back in 2007 – they still ship DVDs, but only to my dad and maybe 11 other people.
GameFly, on the other hand, has remained defiantly old school. They’ll still ship you physical copies of games, and despite the meteoric rise of digital subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now, GameFly is still kickin’ in 2021.
So what’s the deal with GameFly? Why do gamers still use it? Can it still save you money, even if you have Game Pass/PS Now?
Let’s find out if GameFly is still worth it.
How does GameFly work?
As mentioned, GameFly is a subscription service that lets you rent console games and movies by mail. Since you’re limited to the number of games or movies you can have out, most folks just use it for games.
Anyways, here’s how GameFly works:
- Start a free trial or choose a subscription level.
- Add games to your “Queue”, ranked in order of preference.
- GameFly will automatically mail the games you choose in order, based on your ranking, and the game’s availability.
- When you are done with the game, you send it back, and the process repeats.
What does GameFly cost?
GameFly’s pricing structure is a bit convoluted.
As a new member, you’ll be given three options:
- A free 30-day trial membership.
- Three months of one disc out at a time for $8.95/month.
- Three months of two discs out at a time for $13.95/month.
After your trial or intro rate expires, you’ll have two options to stay on:
- One-Disc Plan: $15.95/month.
- Two-Disc Plan: $22.95/month.
Then, after two months of paid subscribing, you’ll be eligible for two optional upgrades:
- Three-Disc Plan: $29.95/month.
- Four-Disc Plan: $36.95/month.
Finally, once you’re subscribed, you can “downgrade” to the budget plan at any time, which costs just $8.95/month – but restricts you from renting any games released in the last four months.
Most folks opt for the One-Disc Plan at $15.95 a month. But before even whipping your wallet out, let’s answer the real question on your mind:
GameFly: is it worth it?
To decide whether GameFly is worth it for you, let’s compare it to your other options. Here’s a quick overview table of how GameFly stacks up to Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now, and buying games outright.
|Buying new||$59.99 (or $69.99 for next-gen titles)||Keep the game forever||Expensive – not cost-effective for “trying” games|
|GameFly||$15.95 or $22.95 per month for 1 or 2 discs out at a time, respectively||Most expansive rental library – includes new releases across all platforms (but PC)||Shipping times mean you’ll spend ~10-14 days per month waiting for the next game|
|Xbox Game Pass||$9.99 per month, $59.99 per year||Includes 100+ AAA and indie Xbox titles plus first-party new releases for one low price||Titles come and go – making progress in a game and having it leave Game Pass is frustrating|
|PlayStation Now||$9.99 per month, $59.99 per year||Allows you to stream 800+ PlayStation titles without having to download them||Poor connection = gameplay lag, dropped connection = game over|
GameFly vs. buying new games
Unless you have to own a game to enjoy it, GameFly is a mega money-saver if you like to play new-release games.
After all, new games cost an eye-watering $70 now – enough to pay for over four months of GameFly. During those four months, you can comfortably rent and take your time with around seven new release games – even if you spend a whole month on a single, lengthy RPG.
If you rent new releases through GameFly instead of buying them, you’ll likely save over $100 per month. Four months in, you’ll have enough savings to buy a Steam Deck!
The disadvantage, of course, is that you don’t get to keep the games. But consider this: by the time you decide you like the game you’re renting, a used copy will appear on the GameFly store for $15 off – basically paying for your subscription.
GameFly vs. Xbox Game Pass
The competition gets a little fiercer when you compare GameFly to the “digital rental” services.
First up is Xbox Game Pass, a $10 monthly subscription service that lets you download Xbox and PC games from a slowly expanding library of 100+ AAA and indie titles. Now that Microsoft releases first-party titles on Game Pass on day one, like Halo: Infinite and Forza Horizon 5, some have begun calling Game Pass the best deal in gaming.
There’s no “but” here – GameFly’s value proposition is much weaker to Xbox gamers, since the best new releases on the platform typically come from Microsoft, and those games launch on Game Pass. If you’re an Xbox-exclusive gamer, I’d only recommend GameFly if the titles you want to play aren’t on Game Pass already.
GameFly vs. PlayStation Now
Also for $10 a month, PlayStation Now lets you stream old PlayStation games going all the way back to the PS2 era. There are over 800 titles currently available, and even though your controller inputs have to go all the way to a remote server and back, the input delay is barely noticeable these days.
That being said, there are two reasons PlayStation gamers may prefer GameFly over PlayStation Now.
- The first is consistency. If your internet connection speed suffers a momentary dip, you’ll notice it in-game via framerate drops and input delays. If your connection drops, well, game over. That’s obviously less of a problem if you’re playing a game off of the disc/hard drive.
- The second is new releases. Unlike Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now is meant to be more of a back catalog – not a way to play the newest games. Therefore, if you want to play the next God of War on day one, you’re either paying $70 or subscribing to GameFly.
Will GameFly save you money?
Whether or not GameFly will save you money depends on what kind of gamer you are:
GameFly can save you hundreds if…
If you specifically want to play new-release games without committing $60 to $70 to a full purchase of each, GameFly is a must.
As mentioned, renting one-two games per month versus buying them outright will save you $100+ per month.
GameFly may not be worth it if…
If you aren’t focused on new releases and are still working through a massive back catalog of games, GameFly probably isn’t worth the money.
Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now both give you instant access, letting you try several games per night versus just one to two per month with GameFly. And since used games depreciate in value like open milk, you can just buy old games you like for $5 to $20.
If you’re on the fence, remember – GameFly offers one month free to help you decide!
Here are some tips for helping you to maximize your free trial:
How can I maximize my free trial?
Maximizing the value of your free trial, and your GameFly subscription as a whole will involve a little strategy.
- Wait until there are several new releases you want. GameFly creates the most value when you rent new releases. I rented three next-gen games during my trial alone, meaning I saved a whopping $240+ tax.
- Ship on Mondays. Putting your games in the mail on Monday morning gives USPS enough time to deliver your new game by the weekend.
- Drop your games at the post office. If you happen to live near a post office, or at least a USPS dropbox, dropping your game there instead of leaving it in your mailbox may shave a day off your transit times. It’s also safer.
- Set a calendar reminder for the day your trial expires. There’s nothing worse than letting a free trial lapse and auto-paying for a subscription you don’t need. Even if you think you’ll love GameFly, set a calendar reminder to revisit your decision in 29 days.
- Don’t cancel too early. GameFly takes breakups seriously – if you cancel on day 19, they won’t let you keep your games for another 11 days. They’ll cancel your account immediately and charge you for any games they don’t get back within seven days.
Once your trial expires, is it worth paying the $15.95 or $22.95? Well, let’s zoom out and look at the pros and cons of the service before deciding.
GameFly: pros and cons
- Play new releases without spending $70. Unless they launch on Xbox Game Pass, GameFly is currently the only way to try new releases without committing to their full MSRP. It’s easy to rent two next-gen games per month, meaning you’ll spend $15.95 versus $140 plus tax.
- Convenience. GameFly ships games directly to your house, and I’ve never had issues with a scratched disc.
- Save bundles if you decide to buy. GameFly also sells the cheapest pre-owned games on the market, with $70 games selling for $50 or less within weeks of release, and older games costing little more than a Chipotle burrito.
- Shipping times. Even though GameFly ships your next game as soon as USPS scans your old one, you’ll still wait four or five days between games.
- Vague availability. GameFly’s availability ratings of LOW, MEDIUM, and HIGH are vague. Instead, a SHIPS BY date would be much more helpful.
- Pricey. At $16 or $22 per month, GameFly is more expensive than Netflix, PlayStation Now, or even Xbox Ultimate Game Pass.
Compared to digital subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now, GameFly is both pricier and more archaic. GameFly’s site may be modern and slick, but shipping physical discs back and forth via snail mail is decidedly 2002.
However, GameFly is currently the only way to play new-release games without paying $70 a pop, so it’s a no-brainer for anyone specifically trying to save on the newest, next-gen games.